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

Attack in Black; Years (by one thousand fingertips): (Dine Alone/Shock)

Attack in Black; Years (by one thousand fingertips): (Dine Alone/Shock)

Maybe it helps not to know that this Canadian band's debut Marriage was some kind of rootsy punk/rock/alternative album (I'm quoting from the bio, never heard it myself). Or that their vinyl-only... > Read more

2am Orchestra: Impermanence (DJK)

2am Orchestra: Impermanence (DJK)

You'd be wise to put aside any preconceptions of what this music might sound like if you simply guessed from the band's name (dark, slow, ambient?), because David Kelley who is the mainman here... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

LIFE by KEITH RICHARDS with JAMES FOX: Through the past cheerfully

LIFE by KEITH RICHARDS with JAMES FOX: Through the past cheerfully

Most reviews of this frequently funny, sometimes insightful and too often rambling autobiography -- Keith + tape recorder + ghost writer Fox -- have concentrated on the obvious: the sniping at Mick... > Read more

Hong Kong: When the rain comes they run and hide their heads

Hong Kong: When the rain comes they run and hide their heads

When the serious rains come, that end-of-days Flood you may have heard about, the question won’t be, “Would I get on Noah’s Ark?”. It will be, “Quick, where is... > Read more