Friday, 6 October 2017
Meredith Monk - Dolmen Music (1981)
Dolmen Music marked the beginning of her ongoing relationship with ECM, and presented five examples of her work from the 70s. After the beautiful opener Gotham Lullaby, which was composed for a 1975 theatre piece by frequent early collaborator Ping Chong, the next three pieces were taken from Monk's 'solo opera' Education Of The Girlchild (1972-3). Performed as the stages of a woman's life in reverse, the selections here are by turns joyously euphoric (Travelling), comical (The Tale) and melancholic (Biography).
The second half of the album is taken up by its title track, a six-section choral suite from 1979. After a ghostly cello introduction, Monk's lone voice is soon joined by the male voices, giving the impression of a sombre ritual from some long-lost culture. The full vocal ensemble broadens this out, its full flight interspersed with smaller pairings and solos, and the return of the cello. Eventually that instrument gets a dramatic, rattling solo, before the voices gradually gather again for the stunning finale. A brilliant work of breathtaking dynamics, topping off an essential album. More Meredith Monk to come in due course.