Meredith Monk – Key (1971)


“One of the great overlooked artifacts of the New York avant-garde, Meredith Monk’s debut album – Key, is a revelation – leaping over the decades with a vision as radical as the day it was made. Originally privately issued in 1971 – now emerging in the hands of Tompkins Square, across its sides, the human voice unfurls as its rarely been heard – the origins of Monk’s seminal body of work, and a near perfect lens into the awe inspiring nature of the era from which it sprang. Within avant-garde practice, Meredith Monk is as close as it gets to household name – standing with the likes of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Laurie Anderson. During the late 1970’s and 80’s, she made considerably strides bridging the worlds of radical multi-media process and pop culture. Key encounters the composer at her raw beginnings – ambitious, challenging, and confrontational. A sonic world entirely its own, its sounds, textures, and structures are bristling, tense, and often displacing – the highs and lows of humanity bound together by the human voice – rising with all the intimacy and emotion it allows. Crucially, within its singularity, the album opens a historic lens into the democratic ambitions laying bellow its era. Though at times difficult to discern, it stands as important and underacknowledged work within the canon of Minimalism – straying far from the efforts of John Cage and his successors. While Monk addresses the voice as instrument – a generator of sound over speech, the diversity of history and culture from which she draws is impossible to avoid. Like America, Key is a melting pot – the traditions of Africa, Asia and India, bound and reimagined with those from Europe – rising together in a new vision for the avant-garde. With hindsight, the albums title transforms into a clue – a crucial key which opens the door into one of America’s most important sonic artists and the history to which she belongs – offering long overdue reappraisal, consideration, and understanding. …”
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ARTFORUM – Judson at 50: Meredith Monk
W – Key
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Key 37:13

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