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by Mike Jordan
Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble | Where Future Unfolds | International Anthem
Chicago’s own Damon Locks is often described as a polymath; from his visual arts career to his work as an educator; and his nearly 3 decades in music as a member of bands like Trenchmouth and The Eternals - there is little he can’t do. Black Monument Ensemble is his latest project and it feels like a culmination of Locks’ many talents, from the gold leafed woodcut album art to the choreographed dance pieces that accompany BME’s live shows.
Where Future Unfolds was recorded in the summer of 2018 at the Garfield Park Conservatory and is an update of the ideas that came out of Chicago’s Afrocentric arts and music scene of the '60s and '70s. Locks acts almost as a conductor of sorts on sampling and percussion as he leads a 4-piece instrumental group featuring clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid along with a choir and a dance crew. Tracks like “Rebuild a Nation” and the Nina Simone sampling “The Colors That You Bring” are great gateways into this record with its blend of gospel, jazz, and hip-hop. Meanwhile, “Power” channels the punk intensity of Trenchmouth with its scathing take down of systemic racism. Likely to be one of the most important Chicago records of the year, BME are already attracting a lot of attention in the UK.