Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meredith Monk - dolmen music (1981)

Meredith Monk and her vocal troupe cut a line between experimental theatre and music, marking a passage through the Ancient Greek tragedy, the opera, world-music, the archaic ritual and the mystical chant. It started with "Gotham Lullaby", presenting a contralto over a desolate and stark piano sonata. Then "Travelling" set a feverish gypsy dance, a wild ritual stirring the primeval forces at play. The sonata returned in "The Tale", as the backbone to an offbeat pantomime/ theatrical performance.

The album got progressively more ambitious, with "Biography" combining the operatic wail, what seemed like twisted reflections of some tragic torch song, and an experimental Ancient Greek tragedy. Yet the masterpiece was "Dolmen Music", an archaic ritual, a mystical chant that reached from the depths of time to the far reaches of the universe, a menacing polyphonic counterpoint between the male and female choir, like a cosmic beam resonating through the edges of the universe, and leaving behind a streaming echo of mass-subconscious particles.

Get it here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jon Hassell - fourth world volume two: dream theory in malaya (1981)

It'd be wrong to say that Dream Theory In Malaya was jazz/ ethnic. It was much more than that. Jon Hassell was a musician researcher delving into the realms of Jung-ian psychology. Dream Theory In Malaya was expressionist, futuristic, impressionistic, surrealist. It was folklore set in a sub-chamber in a void. It was a subconscious dream.

"Chor Moire" was a futuristic camouflage for a world-ethnic music, vivisected and rearranged, miraged from a shapeless reality. "Courage" was an ectoplasmic ethnic-ritual stream, floating over a jungle landscape, formulating the turmoil of the spiritual-dance "Dream Theory". The end of the journey was the ghostly landscape of "Datu Bintung at Jelong".

The focus had shifted from the jungle to the sky, it was a subliminal landscape, reflections made out of aether.

It reflected both towards the future and towards an unimaginable past. "Malay" was an impressionistic sketch, it was the memory of hundreds of small streams running in the jungle to connect with a bigger whole. By "These Times", all that was left was a whisper, an inaudible gust of wind. By "Gift of Fire" the spiritual forces had gathered again, ready for yet another day of dance, condemned to be repeated in eternity, like seashell resonance. Get it here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Residents - eskimo (1979)

The Residents turned to ambient-concrete and ethnic in Eskimo, whose tracks were accompanied by text explanations, thus patronizing what should have been a visceral experience.

Purely musically, the ambient ceremonial chant "The Walrus Hunt" artificially recreated the feel of the arctic wasteland, whereas the starlit ritual "Birth" got some of the Residential weirdo treatment. Then in "Arctic Hysteria", the internal ethnic-concrete collage hinted at Jon Hassell's work to come. Similarly, "The Angry Angakok" reminded of Pink Floyd's concrete chaos in "Several Species" from Ummagumma. "A Spirit Steals A Child" was a deformed ethno-theatrical performance, while surprisingly, in "The Festival Of Death" the ritual metamorphosed to a delicate concerto, a warm moment in the frozen land.

Basically this album represents the point in The Residents' career when their music moved from being a stream of lava of abstract junk-culture to a conceptual art-rock.

EDIT: Dead link because of complaints to Rapidshare.