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“Meredith Monk's music, even more so than that of her fellow minimalists, has been embedded in dance and multimedia presentations tied to a specific place and time. But Memory Game suggests that her works, like those of Arvo Pärt, flourish in new arrangements and will survive separation from their original contexts. The album includes a variety of little-known, but thoroughly enjoyable Monk works, rearranged for voices (mostly) and small ensemble by members of the venerable New York avant-garde group Bang on a Can All-Stars. The arrangements emphasize the deadpan space travel-ethnography texts, as well as the wordless vocalizing. The bulk of the program is given over to a new version of Monk's 1983 work The Games, which was originally for 16 voices, synthesizer, keyboards, Flemish bagpipes, bagpipes, Chinese horn, and rauschpfeife. The simpler version here emphasizes the text in a way that the original doesn't, but it's not fundamentally different stuff, and it comes out well. The rest of the album contains shorter works that preserve and highlight Monk's collection of vocalizations, slides, and nonsense syllables. The "Waltz in 5s," which is exactly what it sounds like, was arranged by Monk herself, with Allison Sniffin, while Tokyo Cha Cha is the type of Monk piece writer Grego Applegate Edwards has likened to pop art. All of it is arresting and deceptively simple. The recording was made not for Monk's longtime home at ECM, but for the Cantaloupe label: it is beautifully engineered and often hypnotic. A real find for Monk fans that points to where her music will be in the public mind ten years hence.”
Album review provided by TiVo. This content is not produced by Primephonic, and any views expressed are the review author’s own.
27 March 2020
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