Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Meredith Monk: Our Lady of Late
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Classical
The Music of the Spheres
waldglyde | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 04/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Meredith Monk is one of those artists difficult to classify. Her music is insperable from her voice to such an extent that the one transmutes into the other. Like Nico and Ono in rock, Cathy Berberian in her chamber music collaborations with Luciano Berio, or Karin Krog in Jazz, Monk is a vocalist with such a complex range of inflexions and nuances as to comprise a sonic palette. This parallel with painting is no mere conceit, either. She can segue effortlessly from the stark restraint of a Morandi still life to the jagged slash of a Picasso scream. She has realised that music began with the voice and, by God, she is going to bring it a kind of end with the voice as well. In her lengthy career, Monk has combined the roles of performance artist, composer, choreographer and vocal stylist. She has absorbed a range of vocal traditions, from folk, opera, rock in the West, to Asian and Middle-Eastern styles. Her work is not world-music, nor classical, nor is ambient or New Age, either. She was tesmed on one compilation with the work of a mediaeval composer, Hildegarde von Bingan, as 'The Abbess and the Monk', which was a cute idea, but tells only half the story. Certainly she could, as a minimalist Diamanda Galas, become a Goth pin-up because of the wind-through-stonehenge quality of her voice, but she remains too austere, and far too unknown, for this fate. The mediaevalism of much of her work is too close to what it was actually like in the Mediaeval period for the typical Bauhausfrau.Having suggested that Monk is difficult, I should add that this is probably the most difficult of Monk's albums, though the only one currently available, it would seem. 'Book of Days' with its mediaeval feel - though more ghetto than Plainsong - is more inviting; 'Dolmen Music', alternately witty in its postmodernism and stark in its sense of loss and longing, is more varied; both would make for gentler introductions. But the brave can start here with 'Our Lady of Late', an unusually pared-down work, even by Monk's standards. Overlaying the throb of the female voice with the piercing sob of fingers on the rims of glasses, Monk pushes the simplest of musical elements to points of beauty, pity, violence. Reverie. If this is the crystaline 'music of the spheres', it is as the spheres, our universe, truly are; not some prettified, platonic ideal. The spheres here sing of the human, not the divine, and are something expressed without the vitiation of words. My then-lover, feisty feminist and confrontative artist that she was, once made it halfway through this album, just to the point where glass and voice have suffered some pained transmogrification into the sound of a wounded animal or weeping child, when she begged me to take it off, never to play it again. This, without guitars, without riot grrrl shrieks, was altogether too visceral, too much what it is to ache. Perversely, I can think of no better recomendation than this. The spheres were crystal, and crystal can cut."