Fasman’s Finds – Black Monument Ensemble

Fasman’s Finds is our column from Rebecca Fasman (intrepid record nerd, DJ, and curator at the Kinsey Institute) in which she shares what she’s listening to and why. 

Black Monument Ensemble is a group of artists, musicians, dancers, and singers led by Chicago-based creative force Damon Locks. Their new album, NOW, comes out digitally April 9th and on vinyl on July 9th. This album was recorded in a few takes outside at Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio at the end of the summer of 2020.

The first single from the new album, “NOW (Forever Momentary Space),” takes you on a journey. It begins with two quotes, one about this being the beginning and not the end, and one of a woman reminiscing about a dream she had in which she was running through a green forest, laughing and dancing with a friend/partner and both of them exchanging “I love yous”. As this quote ends, you hear what sounds like telephone buttons being pressed. Communication and joy undergird this song; you can hear it in the way the song builds, highlighting one incredible performer after another, coming together in a swell and slowly fading to the sound of cicadas, also communicating with one another (the cicada chirp is a mating call from male to female cicadas).

Knowing how, when, and where the album was recorded makes this exchange between performers all the more special; through this pandemic, we have largely been removed not only from live performances, but from collaborative, communal joy. This track is a welcome shock to the system, a necessary reminder that happiness, grief, dreams, creativity, love, and humanity in general are always best served through connection, and, most importantly, that a better future depends on it. 

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