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Red Summer

by ONO

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losfastidios
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losfastidios I like this album, especially for the message that it brings that is really powerful and in line with what happened nowadays. The title and the whole album refers to the Black Lives Matter (red summer refers to the summer of 1919 where white supremacists committed a lot of homicide against black community in USA). The whole album speaks about this, with a lot of reference to historical events (e.g.: 20th August 1619 is the date when the first black slaves were deported in USA). Favorite track: I Dream Of Sodomy.
Tampertronics
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Tampertronics "I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit, I wanted to force it to look in the mirror." - JG Ballard.
Confident this will be my album of the year. Chilling, funky, mind-expanding, confrontational, soulful, danceable, terrifying. It reminds me, bizarrely, of MSP's 'The Holy Bible'. Like THB it doesn't shy away from the filth and evil of history. Unlike THB it's completely in earnest. Put it on headphones, listen to it all, don't look away, be educated, this is our world. Favorite track: Sycamore Trees.
Bill MacKay
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Bill MacKay Joy, pain, & transcendence...the artistic soundtrack of the summer
lcf64
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lcf64 ONO's music refuses to allow the filth of history to be wiped away and sanitized. Their music is vital and a genuine blessing upon us all. Favorite track: Syphilis.
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1.
2.
Coon 04:15
3.
BLK Skin 02:01
4.
5.
Scab 02:26
6.
Sniper 05:16
7.
26 June 1919 01:48
8.
Tar Baby 05:49
9.
Syphilis 05:34
10.
Black Stain 02:33
11.

about

It’s been “Red Summer” for over a hundred years. While the term “Red Summer” typically refers to the race-driven violence in the Summer of 1919 across the United States, its repercussions, its vocabulary can be felt or heard on every corner of every street. In Chicago, it has a special significance, as Chicago was one of two catalysts for that era’s violence, exploded by invisible racial borders along the South Side, a phenomenon that exists today, constantly considered by long-running gospel industrial band ONO.

ONO bandleader P Michael Grego and frontperson travis had met before 1980, sharing a love for written and spoken word, the transcendent, and the genuine. Through continual poking and prodding, P Michael convinced travis to join him in ONO, the name coming from shortening “onomatopoeia,” and underscoring a desire to create “noise not music.” P Michael would handle the audio. travis the words. Since January 5, 1980, ONO’s roster has changed drastically, but always fiercely defended a singular construct: “The ONO STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Experimental Performance, NOISE, and Industrial Poetry Performance Band; Exploring Gospel's Darkest Conflicts, Tragedies and Premises.”

ONO began Red Summer in 2015 and finished three years later. It is a record about Chicago, racial violence, and the long arm of history, starting with events as distant - and relevant - as 1619, the year the Dutch ship Pearl filled with African slaves appeared on the American East Coast. This is where the record begins - the unsettling, carnivalesque overture “20th August 1619.” Frontperson Travis begins “SOLD! 23 ‘Negars!’ N-E-G-A-R-S!! FIELD ‘Negars’ good as Gold! Money down!”

It’s a jarring moment, but what’s not jarring about the arrival of slavery? Ono frequently packages disturbing lyrics or content into absurd, even catchy songs. Take the groovy funk track “I Dream of Sodomy,” an ONO live staple for nearly six years. P Michel’s earworm bassline is a persuasive siren, so much so that when the chorus - “I Dream of Sodomy” repeated multiple times - hits, somehow it’s hard not to sing along. On this song, travis meditates on his Black and Native American heritage, Haitian reparations, and sexual abuse at the hands of a commanding officer in the Vietnam era while he served in the U.S. Navy.

Other songs like “Coon” transform from glacial, elegiac mood-pieces into danceable numbers, all the while musing on racial violence in the U.S. history and militarism. “Early morning, greasy spoon,” travis incants for the chorus. “Possum fat for the hainty coon” before shifting the song’s narrative to a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and the potential for a [Future] all-Black NSA/SAC U-2/SR-71 fighter squadron that turns revolutionary mid-flight!

Though Red Summer is named after a specific era, it explodes temporal constraints, necessarily so. As is made clear in books like Claire Hartfield’s A Few Red Drops and Cameron McWhirter’s Red Summer, these things are hard to bookend. Racial violence occurred before the Red Summer, and it is still occuring now - systemically, to boot.

We hope that this record instills a need to learn, to study, and functions as an inlet into something much bigger.

- Jordan Reyes
c/o ONO

credits

released May 1, 2020

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ONO Chicago, Illinois

“The ONO Statement of Purpose: Experimental, Noise, and Industrial Poetry Performance Band Exploring Gospel's Darkest Conflicts, Tragedies and Premises.”

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