Song You Need: black midi imagine an ultra-violent future

“Sugar/Tzu” is the third single from their third LP, Hellfire, due out Friday on Rough Trade.

July 12, 2022
Song You Need: black midi imagine an ultra-violent future Atiba Jefferson

The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.


black midi have always had a flair for grandiose myth making. From the rough sketches on Schlegenheim to the maximalist character studies of Cavalcade, they’ve never been afraid to lean into their affinity for baroque themes and push them to such extremes the lines between self-parody, pretentiousness, and genius are blurred beyond recognition.


On “Sugar/Tzu,” the third single form the group’s forthcoming third LP Hellfire, frontman Geordie Greep spins the tale of a boxing match a century-and-a-half from now, where super-heavyweight titans battle it out with more than just a belt and some prize money at stake. Murder and mayhem ensue, as seen through the eyes of a child (“a three-foot-three superfluous freak”) who is not as innocent as he seems.

Meanwhile, Greep — who also plays guitar and other less conventional rock instruments — joins his bandmates Cameron Picton (bass, guitar, and more) and Morgan Simpson (percussion) to create a scrambled instrumental full of lightning-fast pivots from tense slow sections to monstrous breakdowns. The track is elevated by a three-piece horn section: John Bristow on trombone, Ife Ogunjobi on trumpet, and frequent collaborator Kaidi Akinnibi, who toured with the band behind Cavalcade, on sax. As Greep’s story careens toward the absurd, the six musicians match his energy with tight, virtuosic playing. The result is a towering epic that somehow doesn’t even run four minutes.

Read Greep’s synopsis of “Sugar/Tzu,” watch its Noel Paul-directed video, and view black midi’s upcoming tour dates below.


“‘Sugar/Tzu’ “imagines that in 2163 it’s possible to see a championship fight between two 600 lb men. Albeit in a so-called ‘Leadweight’ division. The fight is between Sun Sugar and Sun Tzu; the latter being a fan of the Chinese general, hoping to channel his strength; and the former looking to continue the lineage of Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard etc.

Present at their battle is a young boy who stands just over three feet tall. At ringside, he briefly exchanges a glance with Sun Sugar, who, in perhaps an attempt to inspire, comes over to the boy and shakes his hand. It is then revealed, as the contender walks back to the action, that the boy is in fact a killer. He takes a small pistol from his little jacket and shoots the man in the back, honour be damned. The boy believes this not to be a cruel act, but a virtuous one, with his interference giving the audience an ultimate, rare entertainment.

As Sun Sugar hits the deck, the crowd cheer and scream, believing this only to be the result of a particularly vicious shot from Sun Tzu.

There is a little joke here. It is regular for a boxing audience to bemoan an early stoppage, the official stepping in to save a fighter who could’ve gone on. And while there is the surface agreement of most that ‘it was the right thing to do,’ there seems to be often left unsaid the fact that we actually do want to see a brutal knockout. And in the split second where these one-shot, punch-perfect, coma-inducing blows do occur, there is an undeniable rush. The boy in this story feels he is a hero for giving the crowd what they all really want. This is not to say the song is a critique of boxing or anything of the like - I love the sport - but it is an interesting and rare phenomenon worth exploring.”

black midi 2022 tour

July 13 - London, UK - Summer Series at Somerset House
July 15 - Riga, LV- Positivus Festival
July 17 - Dour, BE - Dour Festival
July 21 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club #
July 23 - Asbury Park, NJ - Asbury Lanes #
July 24 - New York, NY - Central Park SummerStage %

July 29 - Puglia, IT - Sud Est Indipendente
July 31 - Sesto al Reghena, IT - Sexto’Nplugged
August 1 - Sestri Levante, IT - Mojotic Festival
August 12 - Rees Haldern, DE - Haldern Pop
August 15 - Stockholm, SE - Debaser
August 17 - Essen, DE - Ruhrtriennale
August 21 - Winterthur, CH - Winterthurer Musikfestwochen
August 26 - La Tour de Peilz, CH - Nox Orae
September 1 - Dorset, UK - End of the Road Festival
September 3 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Psych Fest

September 6 - Baltimore, MD - Ram’s Head Live *
September 7 - Richmond, VA - The National *
September 9 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel *
September 10 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre *
September 12 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn *
September 14 - Houston, TX - White Oak Music Hall *
September 16 - Austin, TX - Mohawk *
September 17 - Austin, TX - Mohawk *
September 20 - Tucson, AZ - Hotel Congress Plaza *
September 22 - Pomona, CA - The Glass House *
September 23 - San Diego, CA - Music Box *
September 24 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern Theatre *
September 27 - San Francisco, CA - The Warfield Theatre *
September 28 - Sacramento, CA - Harlow’s *
September 29 - Reno, NV - Cargo Concert Hall *
October 3 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre @
October 4 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre @
October 7 - Lawrence, KS - The Granada @
October 8 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown @
October 9 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue @
October 12 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall @
October 14 - Columbus, OH - The Athenaeum Theatre @
October 15 - Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall @
October 17 - Pittsburgh, PA - Spirit Hall ^
October 18 - Toronto, ON - Phoenix Concert Theatre


October 28 - Liverpool, UK - Invisible Wind Factory
October 29 - Newcastle, UK - NX
October 30 - Cardiff, UK - Llias at Wales Millenium Centre
November 1 - Antwerp, BE - Trix
November 2 - Paris, FR - Bataclan
November 3 - Lyon, FR - Marché Gare
November 5 - Berlin, DE - Pitchfork Festival
November 7 - Copenhagen, DK - Vega
November 9 - Utrecht, NL - Tivoli
November 10 - Rotterdam, NL - Maasssilo
November 14 - Glasgow, UK - Old Fruitmarket
November 16 - Bristol, UK - SWX

November 19 - Mexico City, MX - Corona Capital Music Festival

December 4 - Tokyo, JP - O-East
December 5 - Osaka, JP - Club Quattro
December 6 - Nagoya, JP - The Bottom Line

# with keiyaA
% with Sal Valentinetti, Sarah Squirm
* with Black Country, New Road
@ with Quelle Chris
^ with Horsegirl

Song You Need: black midi imagine an ultra-violent future