Diamanda Galas
February 18, 2012 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Diamanda Galas sings "Gloomy Sunday"

A fiercely confrontational avant-garde performer noted for her wailing, four-octave vocal range... Galás made her recorded debut in 1982 with The Litanies of Satan, a provocative work comprised of a vocal adaptation of a poem by Charles Baudelaire. After the prison-themed performance piece Panoptikon (documented on a self-titled 1984 release), she began developing a trilogy of albums known collectively as The Masque of the Red Death; released independently between 1986 and 1988 as The Divine Punishment, Saint of the Pit, and You Must Be Certain of the Devil, the three records catalogued Galás' litany against the AIDS epidemic, which claimed her brother, playwright Philip-Dimitri Galás, in 1986.

She is also a fascinating interview subject.
posted by Trurl (18 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen Ms. Galas sing "I Put A Spell On You", and she did just that - looked around at one point and the whole crowd were zombies in her thrall!
posted by Trurl at 11:21 AM on February 18, 2012

Her Vena Cava album, an exploration of dementia caused by end-stage AIDS, still stands as the most frightening piece of music I have ever heard.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2012

I'm a big fan of her version of "My World Is Empty without You".
posted by kenko at 11:37 AM on February 18, 2012

posted by clarknova at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Many thanks for this (you too, kenko).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:03 PM on February 18, 2012

Her voice is my best guess at what an angel's voice must sound like: Beautiful and wholly inhuman. It's actually so unnerving at a deep level that I can't listen to her unless I mentally gear up to it.

My favorite is her rendition of Iron Lady.
posted by winna at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Man, I've scared many a visitor with her four octaves of death. Plague Mass is simply brutal, especially Sono L'Antichristo.

(Although at other times I think the screeching is kinda daft.)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2012

Cris D'Aveugle
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2012

Diamanda Galas screaming for 3 minutes.

I've got to imagine that the makeup and costuming for Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange was inspired on some level by Diamanda Galas.
posted by schmod at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by empath at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2012

I have tickets to see her this week and I.AM.SO.EXCITED. even if I could not find anyone to go with me.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

That album she did with John Paul Jones was not the best work she has ever done.

But I wish I still had the Mute compilation that had her version of Let My People Go, recorded in a cathedral. Powerful stuff.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2012

Ms. Galas' comments on Whitney Houston's life and death were making the rounds earlier this week. I don't entirely agree with her; in the end, if you're surrounded by parasites, you're the one who has to rid yourself of them, you can't expect them to detach from you selflessly. But Galas always interests me even if I don't like what she says or does.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw her at St. John the Divine doing the Masque, and I couldn't figure out how the walls, windows and fixtures were not being shattered by the intensity and volume of her performance. I also suspected the church would have to be reconsecrated after the performance.

A fascinating show. Not an "enjoyable" one.
posted by the sobsister at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wish someone would give her a musical/comedy sketch show on primetime TV. Come on, what patriotic American wouldn't be glued to the set during the Diamanda Galas Variety Hour?
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2012

I was privileged to see Diamanda perform Disfixiones here in Portland several years ago. At some point she squatted on the stage and began to vocalize such that I felt she was going to sprout bat wings, fly out, and begin to tear the heads off of us all.....it is a precious memory. In all seriousness, I have never experienced that sort of transportation from the moment at ANY live performance. This woman embraces and is consumed by the darkest of elements of briliance.m I listen to her interpretation of Baudelaire's "Litanies" as I write this and I wonder why I don't listen to this every morning : ) Thank you Diamandas.....
posted by pdxjmorris at 5:27 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Happy Dance for one of my long term favorite artists being on the blue. Awesome.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:33 PM on February 19, 2012

BTW--the show in Chicago this week was glorious; just her and her piano. I've now seen her three times (twice in the 90's and once in the 10's). It's astounding that her voice, while clearly older, is not diminished.

Apparently, Ms Galas had gotten negative reviews for failing to introduce the songs/explain the foreign languages/chat between pieces recently, so she told random anecdotes and offered odd tidbits about some of the pieces when they ended. You so often hear about the intensity of her performance, the otherwordly and demonic nature of her voice, how visceral the experience is, but you never hear about how charismatic she is. But--of course--she's charming. You don't get to be so successful a force without it.

I was third row center. Best $15 I will spend this year.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:16 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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