M Lamar Releases FUNERAL DOOM SPIRITUAL and SURVEILLANCE PUNISHMENT AND THE BLACK PSYCHE Today
After listening to a few songs from "Speculum Orum - Shackled to the Dead", the 2013 record from Brooklyn-based, genre-defying composer/vocalist/pianist and visual/fine artist M Lamar, esteemed composer/vocalist/artist Diamanda Galas proclaimed, "THIS BITCH CAN SING!" Now Lamar, whose music crosses opera, metal and blues, is getting ready to release two new albums, "Funeral Doom Spiritual" and "Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche" today, January 27, 2017.
To celebrate the release of the records, Lamar, whose musical performances have been described as having an "otherworldly quality", presented the NYC premiere of "Funeral Doom Spiritual", a special multi-media performance, with four concerts at National Sawdust in Brooklyn (80 North 6th Street) on January 13th and 14th, in conjunction with the fifth season of the PROTOTYPE festival, a striking celebration of opera and theater.
The concert and albums draw on themes of apocalypse, end times, and rapture found in Negro Spirituals, what he calls "Doom Spirituals." It explores radical historical expressions and futuristic longings for destruction of the white supremacist world order. "Funeral Doom Spiritual" is a song of mourning for what law professor Anthony Paul Farley calls "the motionless movement of death through slavery, segregation, and neo-segregation." With his use of music, multichannel video, objects, and still images, Lamar shows that it is only with an intense awareness of this "motionless movement," carrying the coffins of the fallen "on our backs," that we can proceed.
Taking place a century into the future, the piece features male soprano Lamar on piano, accompanied by two basses, two contrabasses (by The James Ilgenfritz Ensemble), librettist and musical collaborator Tucker Culbertson, and electronics by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, enveloped in immersive light and video, with striking art direction by Sabin Michael Calvert and costumes designed by Erik Bergrin.
Here's a video that previews "Funeral Doom Spiritual" at National Sawdust: vimeo.com/191963183.
On the album "Funeral Doom Spiritual", Lamar collaborated with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the composer-philosopher-poet known primarily as the author of the text "Transcendental Black Metal" and as the guitarist, songwriter, and conceptual architect of the band Liturgy. Hendrix created the string arrangements and the electronics for the record.
The second record, "Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche", was recorded with the Mivos Quartet, with string arrangements by composer/musician Charlie Looker (Extra Life, Psalm Zero) and features guitar by metal/avant-garde musician Colin Marston from acclaimed black metal bands Krallice and Gorguts.
Honest and raw in both his music and art, "Jezebel" proclaimed, "Even though most music performers are referred to as 'artists,' M. Lamar really earns the title. Lamar seems interested less in conventional songcraft and more with creating, for lack of a better word, 'pieces.'" In 2014, Ken Johnson from "The New York Times" reviewed Lamar's multimedia work, "Negrogothic, a Manifesto, the Aesthetics of M. Lamar," and wrote, "Mr. Lamar plumbs the depth of all-American trauma with visionary verve."
Although he holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute, attended the Yale School of Art sculpture program, and has received critical acknowledgment for his multi-media shows, music has always been a passion. Lamar is a classically trained pianist and continues to study classical and Bel Canto voice technique. Growing up he went to goth, hardcore and punk shows and his diverse musical taste includes Diamanda Galas, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Burzum, Stephen O'Malley, and Wagner. As he told "The Huffington Post" earlier this year, "I believe that music, if it's powerful, has the ability to transcend all these boundaries and barriers. You start from the place from which you emerge, and hopefully, if you have a strong voice (and I believe I have a strong voice), you start there, make the work and hope for the best."
As "Vice" wrote, "Through his music, he has commented on the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, slave ships, and lynching." He released his first 7" single, "White Pussy", in 2010, followed by albums "Souls on Lockdown", "Negro Antichrist", and "Speculum Orum - Shackled to the Dead".
From the ashes and ruins of long dead earth and the infinite blackness of what will be the year 2116, "Funeral Doom Spiritual" and "Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche", take you into a complete cinematic experience.