Major work from Damon Locks and a fifteen-piece group he has gradually built up called Black Monument Ensemble. Where Future Unfolds began as a solo work of sound collage, by the time his group performed it at Garfield Park Botanical Conservatory in Chicago, where this live recording was made, it had become an epic of African-American music, encompassing gospel, avant-jazz, and fierce drum machine groove. A richly compelling performance, on International Anthem.
Vinyl LP £22.99 IARC25LP
LP on International Anthem housed in a heavyweight tip-on jacket coated in metallic gold foil, with dome-patterned inner-sleeve and Japanese-style obi strip.
CD £10.49 IARC25CD
CD on International Anthem.
Yes, it’s hot. It’s sticky, it’s sweltering; it’s a sultry day. Too sultry to be sitting in a stuffy city tower block writing about music; but just sultry enough to be listening to (and hopefully, shortly, writing about) jazz. Jazz of the most red-hot and black variety. And boy, that opening track! What a 'Statement of Intent'! Impassioned, righteous spoken word, atop shimmering percussion and an approaching, imminent storm indicated by ferocious drum-rolls and fills. Cue 'Black Monument Theme' and a beautiful chorus; one worthy of comparisons to Pharoah Sanders and, yes, Alice Coltrane... And, good folks, we’re only just getting started.
More? More. You wanted it -- you got it. The most gorgeous, spiritual and rousing choruses. Baking hot clarinet solos; that’s Angel Bat Dawid rolling in on the subtlest of cool breezes there. So let’s take a moment to mention this group, this ensemble. On this astonishing record you’ll hear no fewer than 15 musicians assembled together under the direction of Damon Locks. Locks is a man who started a project -- this project, as a solo work of sound collage. And look, and hear, how it has grown; how it has evolved, as this towering, monolith of sound. Thus was Black Monument born. Cause for celebration? No doubt. But, please, don’t take my word for it.
It’s a stunning assemblage, a powerfully integrated mixture and co-mingling of jazz, blues, gospel; and probably a lot more besides. All this music! All these musics of black origin which resonate most deeply within this reviewer’s heart. Positive vibrations. Well, that’s what you want from music, is it not? And here it all is, in abundance. It’s truly a timely record for our present-day sociopolitical climate. Yet this record is not a call to arms; not exclusively this anyway. It’s a thing of unbridled joy. Locks is clearly an adept producer and it’s a remarkably coherent piece of work considering all the strands, all the angles and sounds at play here. Live drums blend with, and segue seamlessly into samples and a drum machine. And those voices! Those. Voices... Phew!
Some things never change? True, but some things never needed to. Black Monument.
So, let's not draw comparisons to the past; like, say, Public Enemy’s ‘Nation of Millions..’ Looking to the future, then. Black. Monument.
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- Where Future Unfolds by Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble
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