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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Disk of the Month - Meredith Monk " Atlas" (ECM 1491/92 - 1992)

Brand new to my ears... and to many out there, I suspect...

Owning everything Mrs. Meredith Monk recorded, I didn't own this one, a double CD-set recorded at Power Station Studios in NYC on June 1992, under the production of Manfred Eicher and re-mixed by Jan-Erik Kongshaug at Talent Studio in Oslo.

I just acquired it and...

The opera, a strange art-form for Meredith, was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera in 1991 and it's a words and music soundtrack to Alexandra David-Neel's "Magic and Mystery in Tibet" book and her travels in early '900.

It sounds really strange listening to some words in Mrs. Monk's singing, usually chanting and howling and whistling like a whale...

Like on "Book of Days", the music is strongly, deeply linked to visual and images...

Please read Tyran Grillo's always enriching essay about this disk.

On my part, I humbly suggest you to find and buy these disks also for their HUGE, H U G E sonic merits: please listen to it from the beginning, BUT pay attention to disk 2... it's an incredible achievment, suggesting Benjamin Britten's operas, where strings and brasses and percussions and voices are used in a seldom heard way.

Like Picasso was sure able to paint imitating Rubens or Van Gogh or Dalì's styles, but he choose to destructure women and things, M. Monk sounds unique and different, a path-setter, a scout to hidden places instead of singing straight belcanto... like Alexandra David-Neel and her companions explored hidden monasteries and met mystics and bonpos in Tibet.

Sonically, soundstage is broad, mean:  b  r  o  a  d   and the voices are carved in space between speakers and beyond, in width and depth.

A masterpiece I strongly invite you to explore, as well.

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