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BLACK MOUNTAIN

Damon Locks

Black Mountain Ensemble - Where Future Unfolds

    Where Future Unfolds is a new work spirited by Chicago-based sound & visual artist Damon Locks. Starting as a solo sound collage piece (where Locks pulled samples from Civil Rights era speeches and recordings to create an improvisational pallet for performance on his drum machine), over 4 years the project has blossomed into his 15-piece Black Monument Ensemble – featuring musicians (including Angel Bat Dawid on clarinets and Dana Hall on drums), singers (alumni of the Chicago Children's Choir), and dancers (members of Chicago youth dance company Move Me Soul). Where Future Unfolds is a live capture of the ensemble's epic debut at the Garfield Park Botanical Conservatory on the West Side of Chicago. Recalling the spirits of Phil Cohran's Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Eddie Gale's Black Rhythm Happening, Archie Shepp's Attica Blues, and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the album presents an inspired, innovative & immediate intersection of gospel, jazz, activism & 808 breaks.

    …about Damon Locks… Damon Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, vocalist, musician, and deejay. Known for decades of different projects in Chicago’s underground music scenes, Locks’s CV starts in the late 1980s with the band Trenchmouth (which featured Fred Armisen on drums) and is highlighted by work with The Eternals (coled by Trenchmouth bandmate Wayne Montana), Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra, collaborations with Nicole Mitchell, Ben LaMar Gay, and many others. In recent years Locks has traversed almost every media discipline… including sound/animation work using unheard Sun Ra recordings from Experimental Sound Studio’s archive (with Terri Kapsalis, Wayne Montana, and Rob Shaw); various collaborations with contemporary dancers & choreographers including Onye Ozuzu, Ayesha Jaco (of Move Me Soul), and Anna Martine Whitehead (on presentations & workshops with the Detroit Justice Center); participating in artist residencies at The New Quorum in New Orleans (alongside Nicole Mitchell, Lisa E Harris, Wadada Leo Smith, and others); teaching work with incarcerated artists for the Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project at Stateville maximum security prison; and producing album artwork for several International Anthem releases, including Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, Irreversible Entanglements, and more.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP Info: The 140g LP comes in a heavyweight tip-on jacket coated in metallic gold foil, and dome-patterned inner-sleeve and Japanese-style obi strip.

    Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean turned 16 way back in 1985. And yet, until just two short years ago, McBean had lived his entire adolescence and adult life without a proper driver’s license, that first and most coveted ticket to personal independence. When he did finally take the wheel in 2017, he essentially became a 48-year-old Sixteen Year Old, blowing out the doors off the DMV like a pyrotechnics display at a W.A.S.P. gig. Black Mountain’s new album, Destroyer, named after the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, is imbued with all that wild-ass freedom and newfound agency (and anxiety and fear) that comes with one's first time behind the wheel. McBean, welding mask pulled over his Alan Watts beard, has even been rebuilding a 1985 Destroyer in his step-dad’s garage all spring — building it from its frame, putting in weekends of work to have this beast ready for sunnier days. And wouldn’t you know it: when the Destoyer's engine gives its deep snarl and the stereo rattles with Metallica's $5.98 EP, McBean is fully in the driver’s seat.

    Destroyer is structured around that first time behind the wheel of a hot rod. The fat, charging “Living After Midnight” riffs of opener “Future Shade” is, according to McBean, “Straight outta the gates. FM radio cranked.” He ain’t kidding. The song, and all of Destroyer for that matter, seems to exist at that crucial nexus of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles when a war between punk and hair metal was waged. Black Flag’s My War tried and failed to keep the peace. But in the trenches, some hybrid ghoul was beginning to form in bands like Jane’s Addiction and White Zombie. The heavy extended player “Horns Arising,” with its Night Rider vocals and golden, climbing Blade Runner synths, is a fill-up at a desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa. . And other songs, like The serpentine “Boogie Lover” is a cruise down the Sunset Strip. You pull into The Rainbow Bar & Grill to take the edge off. Doesn’t matter what year it is, Lemmy’s there in flesh or spirit. To continue the teenage theme, there’s also a sense of to these cuts — “High Rise” is a foray into Japanese psych, rounding the bend to a careening, youthful sense of discovery, while “Closer to the Edge” feeling like falling in love with Yes (Remember how good they were for a minute there in your youth?). “Licensed to Drive” would easily be the most exhilarating and dangerous ripper on a titular film’s soundtrack, a dose of heavy right before the muscle car’s wheels fly off going 100 mph on the freeway.

    Shacked up in his rehearsal space, McBean found an old chair in an alley, spray painted Producer on the back and pressed record. Friends from the endless rock’n’roll highway were invited over and 22 songs were brought to life. And while some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later date, the remaining skeletons were left above ground — given organs, skin, eyes, and the opportunity to grow their hair real long and greasy. Some of these zombie hesher jams were sent on a journey to Canada where longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt, slipping on the Official Collaborator satin jacket, had at them with his legendary synth arsenal. As he added long flowing robes, sunglasses, driving gloves and medallions, the undead songs began to transform into the new breathing creatures that make up Destroyer. Schmidt’s work with these songs was the needed transformative glue for this new era of Black Mountain.

    Coming off his newfound automotive freedom, McBean also saw some personnel shuffling within Black Mountain. Both Joshua Wells and Amber Webber have retired their Black Mountain Army uniforms while Arjan Miranda paid his outstanding membership dues and rejoined. New members include Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Bulgasem (Dommengang & Soft Kill) plus other familiar names like Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida), and John Congleton (St Vincent, Swans) take a turn in the shotgun seat. Collectively, there’s a renewed vitality to Black Mountain on Destroyer — a seasoned, veteran of heady hard rock that’s found new, young muscles to flex and roads to explore.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: On their 5th album, psych rockers Black Mountain go big. Less psych, more rock, Destroyer might be their most powerful and driving album to date.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: White coloured vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Founding fathers of Atlanta’s “flower punk” movement the Black Lips release 'Arabia Mountain', their sixth full-length album, on longtime label Vice Records. 'Arabia Mountain' was recorded between Brooklyn and Atlanta over the last few months of 2010 and with the collaborative assistance of celebrated DJ and producer Mark Ronson, Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter, and a human skull with a microphone jammed into it.

    'Arabia Mountain' also marks the first time the Lips have worked with an outside producer. Mark Ronson, best known for his production work with the likes of Nas, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs, Duran Duran, Lily Allen, and Amy Winehouse, recorded nine of the album’s tracks at MetroSonic studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, amid a 10-day bender of late nights and one hospital visit. He then came back to Atlanta's Living Room studio for an additional 5 days to add the finishing touches.

    “I was already a fan of the Black Lips coming into it and I definitely didn’t want to fuck up anything,” Ronson told Rolling Stone in December. And fuck up he did not. The production tests the limits of modern amplification technology, harkening to the full, meaty sound of Fun House or Lola Versus Powerman or whatever your favourite record of 1970 is.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Well, I've been really surprised and totally bowled over by this album. 60's Nuggets drenched 'flower punk' expertly produced in the main by Mark Ronson - yes THE Mark Ronson!! Check this out if you liked the last Black Angels album.

    Sara says: Produced by Mark Ronson this 16 track album pulsates with frenetic energy from the off, aided no doubt by the fact that over half of it was recorded during a 10 day bender! The Atlanta band’s sixth album begins with the fabulously raucous 'Family Tree' - a drunken sax-assisted stomp through “Nuggets”-style garage-rock territory. The unhinged sixties vibe continues with “Modern Art”, probably the only song ever written about being off your face in an art gallery. The lunacy reaches its peak with "Raw Meat”, in preparation for which Black Lips all ate liver sashimi, resulting in Ronson's hospitalization. However there was clear method in the madness as the raw (no pun intended) Ramones feel of the session testifies. "Dumpster Diving” is a classic Stones-esque honky-tonk number which sees the Black Lips waxing lyrical about rooting through dustbins. LP Closer “Keep On Running” is a creepy end to a cheerfully infectious album that gets better with every outing.


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