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by Ben LaMar Gay

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Concord 01:10
U say it! 00:06
Tears 03:35
Muhal 03:43
Uvas 04:18


Grapes is a brilliantly eclectic collection of beats, soundscapes, home recordings & field recordings composed & produced by Gay across 2013 & 2014 in Chicago. Of all Gay's back catalogue nuggets, Grapes may be the best overall showcase for his ability to crank out alluring & artful bangers (a la Shabazz Palaces, or Organized Noise outtakes that were too avant-garde to make Outkast albums in the mid-90s). But it's not strictly a low-end exercise.. Among his lyrical endeavors, Grapes is most unique in its vivid sensory depictions of Gay's home zone. Folded inside the context of iPhone voice memos, short snippets from everyday music-making and everyday life with family & friends, are gorgeous cinematic sonic portraits of Bronzeville (the historic Black cultural & intellectual hub of Chicago's Southside). With this in mind it's no surprise to learn that he was highly inspired by the narrative paintings of Kerry James Marshall (the album's last track is a direct homage to his "7am Sunday Morning" canvas). And that Gay's intention was to make music that "sounds like the murals of Bronzeville coming to life."

More on intentions, in Gay's own words:

“Grapes is a love letter to creative movements, works, artists (past, present, future) in Chicago such as the Black Arts Movement of 60's and 70's, Africobra, the AACM, the Southside Community Art Center, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Burroughs, Charles White, Kerry James Marshall... It's an accumulation of emotions and reflections... created by observing the local happenings through a global lens that was developed as a self-defense mechanism... a global lens dispersing light on the many connections between different folks of different locales thus creating cultural clusters that may resemble a bunch of grapes hanging from a vine pointed towards the earth. If there were a color to describe the music, it would be a deep rich purple like the color of Concord grapes.”

Grapes is 1 of 7 previously-unreleased back catalogue albums included in the source material for Ben LaMar Gay's "Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun" compilation (IARC0017).


released November 1, 2018

Composed & Recorded by Ben LaMar Gay

Voices by Gira Dahnee & Hanna Brock on "Muhal," “The Glorification of Small Victories,” and “Tears”
Woodwinds by Rob Frye on "Muhal"
Sax by JayVe Montgomery on "Me, JayVe & The Big Bee"
Vocals by Zuzu Fe on “Mr Zuzu”
Voice by Nina Adams on “Nina”
Strings by Hanna Brock on “Uvas”
All other instruments & vocals by Ben LaMar Gay

Mixed by Stephen Ptacek & Ben LaMar Gay
Mastered by David Allen

Album Artwork by Maren Celest


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International Anthem Chicago, Illinois

International Anthem is a Chicago-born recording company that produces and promotes progressive media.

The IARC mission is to make positive contributions to the changing state of the music industry, and to vitalize the demand for boundary-defying music by presenting unique sounds in appealing packages to untapped audiences.
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