Diamanda Galas CD review [Mute]

Music Reviews
Diamanda Galås CD review [Mute]
Jul 27, 2004, 05:39


Here we have two discs fully impregnated by Galás and her possessed re-examinations of blues, folk, and gospel traditionals, all done in that wailing way only exquisite dominatrix Diamanda can achieve. Songwriters getting the goth-opera treatment include John Lee Hooker, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Hank Williams, Ornette Coleman and more. Naturally, Galás eviscerates the originals, twists the innards into tormented Gordian knots, then stuffs them back into the songs' structural guts to alter them forever. Tunes like “So Lonesome I Could Cry” are rendered in a method far spookier than you may recall, her mutli-octave voice trilling in impassioned operatic vibrato while her left hand haunts the piano's low keys like a boogie-woogie boogeyman. Beautiful! In fact, the only possible criticism of La Serpenta Canta, which evokes the sublime as easily as it summons dread, is that we've heard Diamanda do this routine before. For those who favor her more experimental, theatrical, screeching, speaking-in-devilish-tongues work like The Litanies of Satan or Schrei X, these songs are obvious and easy. But there's no denying the elemental force—and honorable intent—behind these translations. More power to her. Steady on, milady. [Mute]

-J Graham

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