Ghost Against Ghost return with “Darth Mango”, a defiant Anti-Trump video and single

Ghost Against Ghost return with “Darth Mango”
Politically defiant video & single
Experimental rock band led by Christopher Bono
Video directed by Lakshar Vortok + Strangeloop (Brainfeeder, Erykah Badu)
Watch/share “Darth Mango” video (YouTube)
Ghost Against Ghost, the experimental rock project of eclectic composer Christopher Bono, release their first music since 2018 today with a powerful, politically charged video & single entitled “Darth Mango.” Watch & share via YouTube HERE.
The title of the song and the cartoonish cover art by Nick Siritoch suggest political satire. However, the lyrics, while directly pointing to the unwholesome tactics and mind states of Trump-ism, contrast this with a message of resistance to these temptations through love and social unity.
Video artists Lakshar Vortok and Strangeloop (Flying Lotus, Brainfeeder, Erykah Badu) created a compelling video that poeticizes the lyrics of “Darth Mango” by highlighting personality and event footage that represent the agenda and actions of the Trump movement, juxtaposed against resistance images expressed through peaceful protests and crucial social activism moments.
Bono originally began composing this ornately orchestrated and complex piece during the Fall of the 2016 presidential campaign. He became driven by deep concern for the rising trends surrounding the ascendancy of Donald Trump. At the apparent normalization of explicit falsehoods, disrespect and verbal abuse against woman and opponents, as well as a general mentality of encouraging hate, anger, fear and division, Bono turned to music to process what was the beginning of a deeply dark period of American history.
Christopher Bono: “At the time I had already been thinking about exploring rhythm in a heavier more intense, and early 20th century classical kind of way, experimenting with rhythms energized by the music of Stravinsky, Bartok and others, as a driving force for the structure of a Ghost Against Ghost song. I also was interested in shorter forms, as Ghost Against Ghost songs historically tend to be an extended length, usually between 8 to 15-minutes. I thought to myself, ‘Let’s do a 3.5 minute ‘pop’ song’. Of course, as with anything Ghost Against Ghost, it’s not an up the middle kind of pop song. The music was meant to express some very challenging emotions about the state of our world and reflects this by being abrasive, dissonant, angular, and very dense.”
After beginning work on the piece, he put it away for a few years to focus on the many other projects he’s involved with, including NOUS, Nous Alpha, Tsyphur Zalan and Gabbarein. It lingered in the back of his mind as a statement he felt compelled to complete writing and producing. In 2019, with the specter of the upcoming 2020 presidential campaign, after watching the horror of society and democracy crumbling before his eyes for four years, he was determined to complete it in time for the election.
Christopher hasn’t released a politically charged song in over 15 years, but as a songwriter he does have a history of and interest in political and social commentary in music.
“In my early twenties I was inspired and driven to write activist music,” Bono explains. “I starting out pursuing a music career as a lyric driven singer-songwriter very inspired and influenced by artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd. When I began Ghost Against Ghost in 2008, interestingly enough, the first album (which I never completed) was a double length concept album narrating a dystopian American future. The central theme focused on a the runaway future of a country and world driven by crass capitalism and controlled by a totalitarian head of state. Not too far from where we’ve landed 12 years later.
“I soon put Ghost Against Ghost aside for five years to focus on several classical projects. When I revived the project in 2013 the themes present in the new material focused on metaphysical topics and dark romanticism. With the writing and release of Darth Mango, It’s fascinating to see Ghost Against Ghost return to those original themes of social commentary and political dystopia, however much I wish the circumstances had not driven me here.”
Though Bono often collaborates with friends and talented musicians, this track was performed and produced in true 2020 COVID fashion, in complete isolation. After 2 years of several collaborative projects, Christopher was inspired to revisit solo production, so he played all instruments himself, including drums, bass, piano, synths, vocals and electronics.
About this video, director Lakshar Vortok says:
“We wanted to delineate, in condensed fashion, the tumult of The Trump Administration disaster. The video for Darth Mango exists to give shape and sense to how cruel and unusual this approach to governance is. But because of the a barrage of disturbing video material, we also attempted to show, in counterbalance to the negativity, the societal backlash to corruption in government as it has manifested in The Women’s March movements, the student-led Climate Strike movements, the Black Lives Matter movements (in particular the responses to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor) and the student-led March for Our Lives, which came in the wake of the Parkland School Shooting. By drawing on the frenetic energy and powerful lyrical content of Ghost Against Ghost’s music, we operated under the assumption that there is truly strength in our collective unity in the face of such terrible governmental designs, and we wanted the video to exemplify that.”
Strangeloop shares: “Utilizing a series of publicly available images of DJT we trained a GAN (generative adversarial network) to produce endless incarnations of his visage, albeit with some lucky random deformations that added novelty to the frenetic unfolding of the video. It felt strangely appropriate making literally fake images of a President who seems consistently obsessed with all things fake.”
Laskfar Vortok is a visual artist and musician interested in the new visibilities that have arisen from widespread dissemination and accessibility to data. He is co-founder of The Teaching Machine, an arts collective based in Los Angeles, and has worked as a live-visualist for Erykah Badu, Strangeloop, Tokimonsta, Nick Murphy, RYAT, as well as video installation work in collaboration with Anna Luisa Petrisko for Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) and with Four Larks Theatre Company for The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. He is also co-director of 3TONcinema, a 16MM film archive with collaborator Monty Cantsin.
Strangeloop is a long-time collaborator of Flying Lotus (who developed Layer³ and the recent 3D Live experience) as well as one of the original members of Brainfeeder who is heavily responsible for setting the visual aesthetic for that label, via numerous collaborations with its many artists.
“Darth Mango” lyrics:
Love,
Fear,
We choose.
Our own resistance.
A1
Fear Reveals a weakness.
A Lost Mind Trapped in Madness.
People aren’t your play things.
Selfish Lies Defy True Meaning.
Choice Defines the Future
Thoughts of All can tune a New World.
B1
Unify, Unify, Unify before our Eyes.
[Repeat]
A2
Fear dawns from Division,
Darkened hearts become our prisons,
The lines we draw are only shadows.
Thoughts of All
can tune a New World.
Love,
Fear,
We choose.
Our own resistance.Darth Mango
Love,
Fear,
We choose.
Our own resistance.
A1
Fear Reveals a weakness.
A Lost Mind Trapped in Madness.
People aren’t your play things.
Selfish Lies Defy True Meaning.
Choice Defines the Future
Thoughts of All can tune a New World.
B1
Unify, Unify, Unify before our Eyes.
[Repeat]
A2
Fear dawns from Division,
Darkened hearts become our prisons,
The lines we draw are only shadows.
Thoughts of All
can tune a New World.
Love,
Fear,
We choose.
Our own resistance.
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