Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (ECM New Series)

 |   |  <1 min read

Meredith Monk: Respite
Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (ECM New Series)

Meredith Monk's ethereal vocal music often seems to exist between the chapel and the arthouse, at home being bookended by a choral group and Laurie Anderson.

Over the decades her work has extended from its minimalist origins into instrumental works, theatrical productions, opera (Atlas) and film (Book of Days), and yet its spare, skeletal structure is commanding by virtue of its understatemnt and rare placement of voices with instruments.

This work -- which is a complete piece in conception -- was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet as far back as 2006 and was given its premiere in 2008. It draws inspiration from many types of spiritual and philosophical reflection (Zen, Biblical stories, the Koran) although these are hardly overt . . . and whopping vocals with percussion might seem to have their origin in sounds of the natural world.

For this recording she uses vocal groups and various string ensembles so the music seems to rise and fall with subtle, almost oceanic surges.

In one sense Monk's work is not easy as it creates its own codes and structures, and yet it is also thoroughly seductive if listeners allow themselves to be immersed in the purity of the sound and the astral planes that it sometimes works on.

She presented this as a theatre piece with poised choreography, but this album exists as a work in its own right.

If Meredith Monk is not a familiar name be prepared to be enticed into an almost holy world of mist and clouds.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this. And this

Share It

Your Comments

Peter Sciscioli - Small correction - Aug 31, 2011

Thanks for the review- just a small correction that the work was not originally commissioned by Kronos Quartet, though Ms. Monk's first string quartet, "Stringsongs" (2004) was.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Michael Chapman: 50 (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

Michael Chapman: 50 (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

Late last month this outsider singer-songwriter turned 76 and the album title refers to just how long he's been in the game. And mostly on the losing side when it came to public affection, but a... > Read more

Katie Melua: The House (Dramatico)

Katie Melua: The House (Dramatico)

Those who have followed Melua's career might be a little surprised by this outing -- and if you haven't then this might be the album to tune in for: dramatic, dark, hypnotic, cabaret-noir, lovely... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Tom Petty: Chair man of the bored

Tom Petty: Chair man of the bored

They say you should never meet your heroes and so it has been for me and Tom Petty. In more recent years I did a numbingly boring phone interview with a man I took to be a numbskull and prior to... > Read more

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Polish trumpeter Stanko has been introduced previously at Elsewhere on the ocassion of his excellent Lontano album. Here with yet another line-up he essays some slightly sombre territory (The... > Read more