CD review: Meredith Monk’s On Behalf of Nature

First published in the Guardian on 20 October, 2016

Meredith Monk: On Behalf of Nature
Meredith Monk & Ensemble (ECM)

“I work in between the cracks,” says vocalist/composer/performance artist Meredith Monk, “where the voice starts dancing, the body starts singing, the theatre becomes cinema.” Is a way everything she does is about ecology — that interconnectedness; those wild vocal noises — and now On Behalf of Nature is a treatise without text, an outcry without words. She wants the work “to expand our awareness of what we are in danger of losing” and does that by making music that sounds like it comes from the earth, feet planted in the mud, voices erupting and gusting and keening. As a live show its physical gestures were a bit stilted and obscure; for me it’s more articulate as music alone. And though Monk’s incredible technical range is going, the softer stuff is still enthrallingly playful and ritualistic. Sometimes it feels weird being a bystander to her music: this kind of elemental rite should involve us all.