Song of the Day: Black Monument Ensemble – Now (Forever Momentary Space)
Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble share the new single Now (Forever Momentary Space) from their forthcoming album NOW via International Anthem.
Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble’s new album NOW was created in the final throes of Summer 2020, following months of pandemic-induced fear & isolation, the explosion of social unrest, struggle & violence in the streets, and as the certain presence of a new reality had fully settled in. The band features Angel Bat Dawid on clarinet, Ben LaMar Gay on cornet & melodica, Dana Hall on drums, Damon Locks on samples & electronics, Arif Smith on percussions, and the group of singers: Phillip Armstrong, Monique Golding, Tramaine Parker, Richie Parks, Erica Rene, and Eric Tre’von set up safely in the garden behind Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, the music was recorded in only a few takes, capturing the first time members of BME had ever played or sang the tunes.
For Locks, the impetus was more about getting together to commune and make art than it was about producing an album. In his words: “It was about offering a new thought. It was about resisting the darkness. It was about expressing possibility. It was about asking the question, ‘Since the future has unfolded and taken a new and dangerous shape... what happens NOW?
Listen to Black Monument Ensemble new single Now (Forever Momentary Space) from their forthcoming album NOW:
Damon Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, vocalist, musician, and deejay. Known for decades of varied projects in Chicago’s underground music & art scenes, Locks’ CV starts in the late 1980s with the band Trenchmouth, and is highlighted by work with The Eternals (co-led by Trenchmouth bandmate Wayne Montana), Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra, collaborations with Nicole Mitchell, Ben LaMar Gay, and many others.
His work with Black Monument Ensemble attempts to do the same. Fronted by a jubilant choir, the ensemble embraces a kind of civically engaged, artistic approach to activism originally heard in the 1960s from bands like the Voices of East Harlem and on albums like Max Roach’s We Insist; or originally seen in the photography of Kwame Brathwaite and the art of Emory Douglas. Merging influence from the subsequent half-century of artistic & technological evolution, Locks employs a cyber-punk palette of disparate implements (including beatbox, boombox, telephone, and megaphone) to make narrative compositions of mined sound, beats & archival speech (a la Madlib or Supa K) which are brought to life by the ensemble in electric, improvisational performance. It’s a truly multi-dimensional sound that spans mediums, genres, and generations; past, present, & future.