Black Market Karma have released eight acclaimed albums across as many years – picking up a dedicated following in the UK and Europe through their tireless commitment to the cause and their instantly-recognisable brand of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll. Based from their own Cocoon studio in South East London, songwriter/ singer/ guitarist, Stan Belton, has sculpted the band’s sound around the hypnotic grooves and boundary-pushing production that propels their songs into the spaced-out stratosphere.
Upcoming album, Aped Flair & Hijacked Ideas, sees the band mining more of the self-described ‘aquatic folk’ leanings showcased on tracks like Shaking Sad from their previous album (Animal Jive) and Belton’s stripped-back solo performances, suggesting we can look forward to a collection of timeless songs submerged in the band’s signature soundscapes, as demonstrated on album teaser Urchin.
Belton spoke to Secret Meeting about some of the main influences on his band and the stories behind their discovery…
Three albums I love:
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
I have to pick this one because it’s one of the earliest records in my life that put me on the musical path I’m still on today. The combination of melody, lyrics and production. It’s Rock n’ Roll as an art form. There’s also just this effortless cool about it. A kind of potent reverence, almost nonchalance that just speaks to me for some reason. It moves me and gets me amped at the same time. I listened to it constantly as a 15-year-old in secondary school. Anyway, most people reading will probably know this record and there are countless articles about it so I’ll leave it there.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
This is a band that I always find my way back to. Like a true friend who you might not see for years but you reconnect instantly. I enjoy almost all of their work but this is the first record of theirs I ever heard. The reason it sticks with me is because of the excitement I remember feeling upon my first listen of the opening track when I was maybe 20 / 21. Back then I was spending a lot of time with a friend (later to become an old band mate) who had been kicked out of his home cos of tensions with his step dad. We were a bit dysfunctional at the time looking back ha ha, walking miles to Asda every night because we were pulling all-nighters and it was the only 24-hour shop in the area but it was good times. One night we were hanging out listening to music and this album kicked in as a related suggestion. It was probably on YouTube or last.fm or some site like that but man, it blew my face off. My buddy was passed out hungover and i remember shaking him awake all like, man, listen to this band! He was probably not too happy at the time but it just excited me so much. A definite inspiration for our earliest albums. That feeling of finding new music is such a rush for me, it always gets ideas flowing.
Serge Gainsbourg – Les Annees Psychedeliques
I’m not usually one for compilations but this is so well curated and flows perfectly. It also includes a lot of music from his soundtrack work for several French Films. It was a later discovery for me, middle 20’s if I remember right. Musically it’s fantastic but the arrangement is what really inspired me. It sounds so lush. Beautifully layered and richly textured with strings, horns, sitar, piano, twanging western shootout style guitars, big bass and absolutely slammin’ drums. Album’s like this expand my ideas for production and arrangement on future work and that’s a priceless thing.
A film I love
Angel’s Egg (Tenshi no Tamago). It’s a Japanese animated film from 1985. It’s very slow moving with a thick and heavy atmosphere. It features beautifully animated gothic imagery, sparse dialogue and an abstract plot that is highly open to interpretation. It’s a movie that is most definitely not for everyone but I find it otherworldly and enthralling. If that sounds like a bit of you then check it out. Also, I recently edited it down into a music video for an older track (Neghead) from our third album Easy Listening.
One book I love
I suppose this is kind of cheating but recently I had an absolute charity shop bargain and found a dirt-cheap copy of The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
It’s one of those massive and beautifully-presented hardback books, the kind that I would read obsessively as a young boy. It’s quickly become a prized possession of mine. The creative process behind making something as visually monumental as Star Wars is endlessly fascinating to me.
A song that’s important
Daniel Johnston – The Story Of An Artist
I’ve chosen this for two reasons, the first being that, like all of his work, it’s just so pure and sincere. In my personal experience, sincerity seems a bit scarce in this world and if you haven’t got it, then what have you really got? This has probably been amplified somewhat by being in the music business. A lot of people in it are sycophantic beyond belief, which kind of plays into the second reason.
This song perfectly communicates what it’s like to pursue a life in art.
If you try and do anything even remotely off of the beaten path you’ll be constantly confronted by people expecting you to validate yourself. I’ve found this a lot growing up as someone who makes tunes. The validation they seek isn’t quenched upon you presenting a body of work though, they usually want some kind of metric of how famous you are. They want to know if someone with mild fame said you were good once. Like that somehow gives objective worth to a piece of music.
Listen to his words – they’re beautiful.
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