The New York Times Features Damon Locks (BFA 1991) and the Black Monument Ensemble’s Newest Album “Now”

Damon Locks (BFA 1991), Chicago-based vocalist, producer and sound artist, creates music that expresses the pain of seeing Black people killed without adequate justice while simultaneously celebrating Blackness. As the leader of the eighteen member Black Monument Ensemble, they released the album Where Future Unfolds in 2019. 2 years later and in a global pandemic the question was, “What would I say now?” Locks, fifty two, said in a recent phone interview with the New York Times. “And when breath is the most dangerous thing around, how do you record up to six people singing?” Now is a six song, thirty one minute masterpiece that makes use of electro-funk to guide listeners towards optimism and explores the concept of “the Black nod,” or the unspoken mode of communication between Black people in public spaces. Although designed to be like a one on one conversation, the album in it’s entirety feels communal  with it’s vibrant drum breaks, movie clip sounds, and jazz arrangements that call for change. “I’m just trying to communicate as a human being,” he said. “The idea is to be in classrooms talking to students, to be in Stateville talking to artists who are incarcerated, trying to get their voices out there.”