Noir” is an interesting juxtaposition of the new and old. It was originally released in 2011 back at the peak of Blue Sky Black Death, then reissued a decade later at the peak of the pandemic. The world changed a lot in that time and so did BSBD themselves, disbanding in 2017 via a tweet that they were “resting eternally.” The fact a reissue was possible suggests there’s no animosity between Ryan Maguire (Kingston) or Ian Taggart (Young God), which should at least give their fans hope a reunion is possible.

If this is your first go-around with BSBD, know that they are purveyors of atmospheric audio experiences as you dive in. Someone wiser than me recently said “stop comparing artists to other artists, they already do that too much themselves” — so out of respect to Taggart and Maguire I’m trying very hard to resist the temptation. The downside of that is I would only compare them to people I respect and enjoy listening to. Instead I’ll say that songs like “To the Ends of the Earth” would fit comfortably into the “Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Beats to Chill To” trope on YouTube or Spotify playlists. This is not aggressive hip-hop, snap your fingers rap, or bang your head like a heavy metal singer music. It’s a quiet mood with piano, echoing vocals you can barely discern, and lush warm electronic sounds from vintage synths over lightly tapped drums.

I can already predict what the naysayers would peg this as though — coffee house music. I’m guilty of that though. I don’t want to listen to Kool G Rap while sipping a latte. He’s fine booming out of my car stereo, or radiating from a Bluetooth speaker in my home office, but would you play him at a Starbucks or Panera? Okay maybe the coolest Panera you’ve ever been to, but not any I’ve been to. If “In the Quiet Absence of God” is the soundtrack for munching on a toasted bagel that’s fine by me.

That’s not to say BSBD doesn’t have bangers though. “Gold In, Gold Out” starts out like a seemingly mellow track, but 71 seconds in there’s loud audio stab and it suddenly ramps up into the most attitude a song with no lyrics could have. It’s a play on the old computer programmer phrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out” in the best possible way. Blue Sky Black Death took all the old audio jewelry they could fine, fired it in a crucible, and poured it out into graphite molds to create 24K listening that reflects on you like sunlight off a mirror.

Noir” is all about moods. It’s hard to imagine anyone being in a bad mood while listening to it. There are many forms of music which subvert your expectations and force you to appreciate it as art for art’s sake such as harsh noise, but all I get from tracks like “Where Do We Go” is a warm comforting noise that I don’t have to contemplate in the context of my visceral reaction. I think “Swords From Driftwood” might be the best way to explain them though — even when they’re aggressive they do it in a playful way that could never really harm anybody. If what you desire is attitude they are the wrong latitude, but if you want to chill at the equator they’re your creator.

Blue Sky Black Death :: Noir
8Overall Score