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Meredith Monk — Dolmen Music (March 1981) {ECM}

Meredith Monk — Dolmen Music (March 1981) {ECM}

 Meredith Monk — Dolmen Music (March 1981) {ECM}
♦¬   Meredith Monk: “I just keep trucking along.” A pioneer in performance art, who takes an interdisciplinary approach to creativity and has excelled in a variety of forms.
♦¬   Monk's deeply personal compositions sound at once ancient and modern, like a folk music for the whole world.                  © Meredith Monk, Key Recording, Santa Monica, CA 1970
Born: November 20, 1942 in Lima, Peru
Location: New York City
Album release: March 1981
Recorded: Recorded March 1980 and January 1981 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Record Label: ECM
Duration:     46:41
Tracks:
1. Gotham Lullaby      4:19
2. Travelling      6:18
3. The Tale      2:51
4. Biography      9:33
5. Dolmen Music      23:40
a) Overture And Men's Conclave
b) Wa–Ohs
c) Rain
d) Pine Tree Lullaby
e) Calls
f) Conclusion
℗ 1981 ECM Records GmbH
Personnel:
♦¬   Meredith Monk — voice, piano
♦¬   Collin Walcott — percussion, violin (tracks 1-4)
♦¬   Steve Lockwood — piano (track 3)
♦¬   Andrea Goodman — voice (track 5)
♦¬   Monika Solem — voice (track 5)
♦¬   Paul Langland — voice (track 5)
♦¬   Robert Een — voice, cello (track 5)
♦¬   Julius Eastman — percussion, voice (track 5)
Credits:
♦¬   Martin Balk Engineer
♦¬   Ping Chong Illustrations
♦¬   Robert Een Cello, Vocals
♦¬   Manfred Eicher Producer
♦¬   Andrea Goodman Vocals
♦¬   Steve Lockwood Piano
♦¬   Meredith Monk Composer, Liner Notes, Piano, Vocals
♦¬   Sarah Van Ouwerkerk Photography
♦¬   Collin Walcott Percussion, Producer, Violin
♦¬   Martin Wieland Engineer
♦¬   Barbara Wojirsch Design    © Meredith Monk: “I just keep trucking along.” Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes
Notes:
♦¬   Track 1 originally composed 1975 for "Fear And Loathing In Gotham", a bricolage theatre piece by Ping Chong. Tracks 2 to 4 originally composed 1972 (4) & 1973 for the opera "Education Of The Girlchild".
♦¬   Tracks 1 to 4 recorded January 1981 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg. Tracks 5a to 5f recorded March 1980 at Hometown Studios, NYC. Mixed at Tonstudio Bauer.
♦¬   Dolmen Music is the 1981 album by modern classical artist and composer Meredith Monk. This was her fourth album, her first for the ECM label, and released under the label's ECM New Series. The album is known to some audiences as a sample source in DJ Shadow's "Midnight In A Perfect World".
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Breece;  Score: **
♦¬   Meredith Monk has such a wonderful and unique vocal style that she is able to sing in complete abstraction (no known words or language for much of the album) yet maintain a very emotional and even sentimental quality in these abstractions, at times. ♦¬   Listeners who can get past just how unique and abstract her approach is will find immense joy and sadness deep within her pieces. On Dolmen Music, Monk wavers from being sad to the point of being quite morose (such as the tracks "Gotham Lullaby" and "The Tale") to being happy to the point of hysteria (as on "Traveling" and "Biography") without skipping a beat. Most of the musical accompaniment is minimalist (mainly piano with occasional, sparse percussion, guest vocalists also being prominent on the final six–part track "Dolmen Music"). This minimalist support only furthers Monk's vast vocal language as the prominent focus in the recordings. Listeners will also be very pleased to find that her wonderful voice is not crowded or overshadowed. ♦¬   A true original, Monk's work should be sought by anyone with an interest in vocal exploration.
Biography:
♦¬   MEREDITH MONK (b. November 20, 1942, New York, NY) is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music–theater works, films and installations. A pioneer in what is now called "extended vocal technique" and "interdisciplinary performance," Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. Over the last fifty years, she has been hailed as "a magician of the voice" and "one of America’s coolest composers". Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented by BAM, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria. Among her many accolades, she was recently named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France, and the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America. Monk is also one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices, and has received a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award and a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.♦¬   In 1968 Ms. Monk founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. In 1978 she founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to expand her musical textures and forms. As a pioneer in site–specific performance, she has created such works as Juice: A Theatre Cantata In 3 Installments (1969) and Ascension Variations (2009) for the Guggenheim Museum, and American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994). Monk’s award–winning films, including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book of Days (1988), have been seen throughout the world. Her music can also be heard in films by such directors as Jean–Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers, and in the recent HBO series, True Detective. In addition to her numerous vocal pieces, music–theater works and operas, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others.
♦¬   Since graduating Sarah Lawrence College in 1964, Monk has received numerous honors including the prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, three "Obies" (including an award for Sustained Achievement), and two "Bessie" awards for Sustained Creative Achievement. She holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Juilliard School, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Boston Conservatory. Monk has made more than a dozen recordings, most of which are on the ECM New Series label, including the 2008 Grammy–nominated impermanence and the highly acclaimed Songs of Ascension. She has also been working with the publisher Boosey & Hawkes since 2001.
♦¬   In October 1999 Monk performed A Vocal Offering for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles. Her 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated in 2005 by a four–hour marathon at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, with additional performances throughout New York City. In February 2012 she was honored with a remix and interpretations cd, MONK MIX, featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds. In March 2012, she premiered Realm Variations for six voices and small ensemble, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, and performed in John Cage’s Song Books as part of the Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival. Monk’s newest music–theater piece, On Behalf of Nature, premiered in January 2013 at UCLA and is currently touring internationally. This fall, Meredith Monk will mark her 50th season as a creator and performer. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of her generation, she has been appointed the 2014 — 2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.IN DETAILS
♦¬   Like much of Meredith Monk’s work, the atmospheres on this album are as foreign as they are familiar and comprise a vivid testament to the staying power of her compositional talents. When I first heard Dolmen Music as a teenager, I thought of it as folk music from lands that had yet to be discovered (admittedly, this interpretation was shaped by an oft–cited description to the same effect). Listening to it anew, I prefer to think of it as music that comes from a place so deep within, so familiar, that we tremble to hear it blatantly exposed. Monk’s music is all about the voice: it extends from the voice, begins and ends in the throat, reveling in its elasticity, its pliancy, its fragility.
Gotham Lullaby
♦¬   Over a sparse layer of four–note arpeggios, Monk sings and squeals, tracing her swan song in the dust. Sustained tones hover in the background just out of reach as her voice ebbs and flows along a wordless coast. This is a lullaby of trees, if not for trees; a dream of darkness between branches and the decay of leaves falling past the city’s edge; a place where the wind can still be felt…
Travelling
♦¬   This little journey springs to life with a rollicking piano laced with ritualistic drumbeats. Monk carries full weight in her confident ululations. The emergence of a rain stick adds an air of ceremony, where the piano becomes our circle and Monk the medium who channels voices of the dead in a semblance of life. Words dissolve, wetted by the trickling of monosyllables, grunts, and cries. Monk converses with her self, as if the piano were not another voice but a landscape in which the voice has found purchase. She casts her lot into the chasm at her feet as one other voice takes up the call, floating like a severed head in the ether, its mouth agape to expel the song of its birth and its death.
The Tale
♦¬   A thread of piano and mouth organ supports a series of vocal beads in which we get our first and only discernible words. Over this conformist backdrop, she proclaims:
I still have my hands.
I still have my mind.
I still have my money.
I still have my telephone…hello, hellooo, hellooooo?
And between these seemingly innocuous interjections, she riddles our attention with rhythmic laughter against the sound of breaking glass, the detritus of the living.
I still have my memory.
I still have my gold ring…beautiful, I love it, I love it!
I still have my allergies.
I still have my philosophy.
♦¬   This is not the voice of the insane, despite what its many disjunctions might have us believe. It is the voice of a larger social body gone awry rather than that of a single individual corrupted by its oppressive infrastructure.
Biography
♦¬   This is the most emotional composition on the album and makes me stop what I’m doing every time it comes on. It is a keen in reverse that scrapes the interiors of our lungs. Peeking out from the deepest recesses of articulation, Monk sings as if in mourning. Her utter abandon allows her access to divine control through the very lack of her desire to control. In doing so, she looses the strictures of emotional conduct, shedding the outer walls of her physical makeup. She cries as she sings, intoning and droning. Her register strays into animal territory, as if intent on communicating to any and all creatures that might be listening. She runs through this vocal catalog, as it were, as a way of rearticulating the nature of her supposed loss and the comportment of its breathing remnants. This piece in particular rests on a razor’s edge, seemingly content on lying back and letting the world press down until it is cleaved in two. She wakes and walks, a divided self, into the night.
Dolmen Music
♦¬   The last 24 minutes of the album are dedicated to its title piece, and what an epic journey it is. Dolmen Music unfolds liturgically, as delicate as it is persistent. A cello breathes into our ears with soft harmonics: introit. Women’s voices evoke the fundamental phonemic underpinnings of language. This language is not primitive so much as formative, spreading its vocabulary across space and time. Male voices process, lilting with “Ahs” that degenerate into a sort of ritualistic aphasia constrained only by time signatures. The cello returns: communion. The congregation partakes of a musical host and drinks vocal wine. And in the ecstatic peace that follows, Monk’s voices gather energy and speed with evangelical fervor. The voices work in canon, floating even as they crash into the limits of meaning.
♦¬   With this album Monk reinvigorated the linear song, the sole/soul singer, the monophonic performer. With the barest resources, she and her highly trained ensemble gave us an eternity of sounds. Dolmen Music makes a stunning addition to any music collection not only for its audible dimensions, but also as an art object, for it boasts one of the most perfectly suited covers in the entire ECM catalog.
Website: http://www.meredithmonk.org/
By ZACHARY WOOLFE, NOV. 28, 2014
♦¬   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/arts/music/meredith-monk-celebrates-50-years-of-work.html
Tom Service, Monday 19 November 2012 16.15 GMT
♦¬   http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2012/nov/19/contemporary-music-guide-meredith-monk♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦¬♦

Meredith Monk — Dolmen Music (March 1981) {ECM}

 

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