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BLACK MOUNTAIN

Black Lips

Arabia Mountain - 2023 Reissue

    Sixth full-length album from the gurus of Atlanta’s “flower punk” movement, from the heady daze of 2011 – finally back on vinyl and part of a series of Fire re-issues celebrating 20 years of the legendary garage rock gurus from Atlanta, Georgia. Arabia Mountain was recorded between Brooklyn and Atlanta in 2010, and with the collaborative assistance of celebrated producer Mark Ronson, Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter, and a human skull with a microphone jammed into it. “I was already a fan of the Black Lips coming into it and I definitely didn’t want to f**k up anything,” Ronson told Rolling Stone…and f**k up he did not. The production tests the limits of modern amplification, harkening to the full, meaty sound of The Stooges’ Fun House or Lola Versus Powerman by the Kinks. Unapologetic southern-fried twang, crunching through the gears with flowers blossoming everywhere. 

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    A1 Family Tree
    A2 Modern Art
    A3 Spidey's Curse
    A4 Mad Dog
    A5 Mr. Driver
    A6 Bicentennial Man
    A7 Go Out And Get It
    A8 Raw Meat
    Side B
    B1 Bone Marrow
    B2 The Lie
    B3 Time
    B4 Dumpster Dive
    B5 New Direction
    B6 Noc-A-Homa
    B7 Don't Mess Up My Baby
    B8 You Keep On Running 

    Originally conceived as a medium for Chicago-based multi-media artist/activist Damon Locks’s sample-based sound collage work, Black Monument Ensemble (BME) has evolved from a solo mission into a vibrant collective of artists, musicians, singers, and dancers making work with common goals of joy, compassion, and intention. A genuinely multi-generational collective, ages of BME members range from 9 to 52 years old; members include instrumentalists and fellow IARC recording artists Angel Bat Dawid and Ben LaMar Gay. Their debut album Where Future Unfolds was released in 2019 by International Anthem glowing praise; landing at #3 on Bandcamp’s “Best Albums of the Year,” #25 on WIRE Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2019,” and being repeatedly dubbed “The Best Album of 2019” by BBC/Worldwide radio titan Gilles Peterson.

    Locks & BME’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. Set up safely in the garden behind Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, the music was recorded in only a few takes, capturing the first times 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?’”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: What a wonderful collection this is, rich in spoken word and sound collage elements but at it's core, a brilliantly effective journey brimming with jazz, soul and gospel all brought together with a political directness and perfectly balanced concept and performance.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Now (Forever Momentary Space)
    A2. The People Vs The Rest Of Us
    A3. Keep Your Mind Free
    B1. Barbara Jones-Hogu And Elizabeth Catlett Discuss Liberation
    B2. Movement And You
    B3. The Body Is Electric

    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.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Statement Of Intent / Black Monument Theme
      A2. Sounds Like Now
      A3. Solar Power
      A4. Rebuild A Nation
      A5. Which I Believe It Will
      B1. Which I Believe I Am
      B2. The Colors That You Bring
      B3. The Future?
      B4. Power
      B5. From A Spark To A Fire

      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.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Future Shade
      2. Horns Arising
      3. Closer To The Edge
      4. High Rise
      5. Pretty Little Lazies
      6. Boogie Lover
      7. Licensed To Drive
      8. FD’72

      Black Mountain

      Black Mountain - 10th Anniversary Edition

        It’s a cliché because it’s true - the greatest records are timeless. Black Mountain’s self-titled debut album is just such a record. It is a new classic rock, with reference points arcane and clear, its sound fresh, unfamiliar and irresistible.

        The work of a small collective of musicians operating from Vancouver, Canada, far from any industry buzz but firmly in the eye of their own storm of creativity, Black Mountain’s debut album was, of course, a beginning, but it also marked an ending. Begun as the fourth album for Jerk With A Bomb, the 4-track bedroom project turned non-rock band led by Stephen McBean that preceded Black Mountain, the songs grew from skeletal sessions cut by McBean and Josh Wells and honed on the road in empty North American clubs along with Amber Webber. “We’d lay down the bed tracks, the guitars and drums,” remembers McBean. “Matt [Camirand, bass] joined, and we changed the band name after a dream of how life could be different in the B section between Black Flag and Black Sabbath. Josh’s roommate Jeremy [Schmidt, keys] was lurking about. We asked him if he wanted to add some synth bleeps or whatever. He came back with all these orchestrated keyboard parts, and we said, ‘Oh, you should probably join the band now.’”

        The album’s initial success saw the band take to the road, leaving their Vancouver enclave for stages across the world. “It felt like there was a real explosion of excitement at shows,” remembers McBean. “We wouldn’t write setlists, we’d just feel the energy in the room and call things out, jamming on songs like ‘No Hits’ and ‘Druganaut.’ It was a good time for live rock & roll: DJ booths were being transformed back to drum risers, people were digging 20 minute heady jams and there were bands like Comets On Fire and Oneida out there who we felt kinship with. I was into Faust and Amon Duul but had no idea of the scene of modern bands doing that stuff. And then we met those bands, and it was cool. And then we went on tour with Coldplay… and the adventures continued.”

        Savour the compact, spacey brilliance of that cosmic, heavy and subtle debut album, expanded now with a raft of delicious bonus tracks scavenged from the Black Mountain Army archives.

        Both the 2CD and 2LP packages come with foil print.

        TRACK LISTING

        Modern Music
        Don’t Run Our Hearts Around
        Druganaut
        No Satisfaction
        Set Us Free
        No Hits
        Heart Of Snow
        Faulty Times
        Druganaut (Extended Remix)
        Buffalo Swan
        Bicycle Man
        Behind The Fall
        Set Us Free (Demo)
        Black Mountain (Demo)
        No Satisfaction (UK Radio)
        It Wasn’t Arson

        Black Mountain

        Wilderness Heart

          "Wilderness Heart", the new album by Black Mountain, is packed with succinct rock songs that pulse and pound with startling precision: it pummels you and you ask for more. This is arguably the band's tightest, most concentrated venture, but there's still plenty of raw rock energy at work. 'It's our most metal and most folk oriented record so far', McBean says. 'I'm not gonna say it's our best record or the album that we always dreamt of making 'cause that's what everyone says. It's all about where we were at the time the machines were rolling. You can't control the electricity or how your limbs were moving that day. You have to erase the visions and just go along for the ride'.

          A little over a year after releasing "In The Future", their critically and commercially celebrated sophomore effort, Black Mountain started building "Wilderness Heart" on the west coast of America. With Randall Dunn at the helm (Sunn O))), Boris), London Bridge Studios in Seattle saw a portion of the construction with songs "Old Fangs," "Let Spirits Ride," and title track "Wilderness Heart" among others. The preponderance of recording was held with D. Sardy in Los Angeles at Sunset Sound, which has captured tracks from The Doors, Ringo Starr, the Rolling Stones, and more. L.A. – with its tacos and sunsets, starlets and hills and post-Deco kitsch – was a considerable inspiration. 'Just being under the influence of one's surroundings, as we were while recording in L.A., had a tremendous impact on the process and the way we play. Consequently, the LA sessions have a free and summery vibe. The Seattle sessions, made in the grey, rainy environs that we're used to up there, have a chillier, more claustrophobic feeling', Wells explains.

          'It's a Black Mountain pop record, which is to say it's nothing like pop at all', Wells says. 'This was the fastest record we've ever made. We're used to spending a lot of time deliberating over the songs and spacing out recording sessions over years. Start to finish, this album was made in four months, which is something like a miracle for us. We've never worked with producers before and that was a challenge; for us to let go and let two outsiders into the process, D. Sardy and Randall Dunn – it took some growing for us to be truly open, but this album is all the better for it'.

          The band cites a slew of disparate influences – New Order, King Crimson, Studio 54, Alex Chilton, sunshine, Janis Joplin, Please Kill Me, Shirley Collins, Mickey Newbury, jalapeño salsa, Night of The Hunter, Cactus Taqueria, Funky16Corners podcasts, Dennis Wilson, the house blowing up in the desert at the end of Zabriskie Point – but, as Schmidt points out, 'Who knows how these things connect with the holistic mix of often dissonant forces that become Black Mountain?'


          Black Mountain

          Black Mountain

            Black Mountain is Matthew Camirand, Stephen McBean, Jeremy Schmidt, Amber Webber and Joshua Wells. Their debut self-titled record charts territories unknown yet remains grounded by the roots of classic rock and roll. It is easy to discern these roots: Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Animals-era Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin and Can. Principal songwriter Stephen McBean's vocals are a smoother, bluesier amalgam of the voices of Neil Young, Mick Jagger and perhaps a James Brown loaded on cough syrup. And when Amber Webber's voice joins Stephen's, the combination brings to mind the potency and chemistry of Richard and Linda Thompson singing together on "Shoot Out The Lights". Musical comparisons aside, the Black Mountain full-length is one part protest song, one part pop-cultural commentary, and one part sick-grooverock casserole peppered with mesmerizing ballads and intoxicating ditties. Black Mountain features former and present members of The Pink Mountaintops, The Black Halos, Dream On Dreary, Sinoia Caves, and Orphan.


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