Friday, April 28, 2006

Here Diamanda Galás, and She's PISSED!

Four tracks from Diamanda Galás' live performance of Plague Mass: 1984-End of Epidemic.

The pieces (some of which can be called songs) are:
  • Were You a Witness [Part 1]
  • I Wake Up and I See the Face of the Devil [Part 1]
  • Let Us Praise the Masters of Slow Death
  • Let My People Go

A bit about Galás , mostly lifted from Wikipedia's article on her:
"Diamanda Galás (born August 29, 1955) is an American-born avant-garde performance artist, vocalist, and composer known for her distinctive, operatic voice, which has a three and a half octave range; Galás has been described as "capable of the most unnerving vocal terror". Her pieces are constructed from the ululation of traditional Mediterranean keening...whispers, shrieks, and moans; she often howls, and seems to imitate glossolalia in her performances.

"Her work first garnered widespread attention with the controversial 1991 live recording of the album Plague Mass in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. With it, Galás attacked the Roman Catholic Church for its indifference to AIDS using biblical texts. In the words of Terrorizor Magazine, "The church was made to burn with sound, not fire." Plague Mass was a live rendition of excerpts from her same-titled trilogy which began as a response/homage/indictment to the multitudinous effects of AIDS upon the silent class - of which her brother was a member."

I had not listened to the Plague Mass in a few years and I was surprised that it was more moving now than ever, particularly the political commentaries. With the recording having been made years before protease inhibitors rendered AIDS less fearsome--a tamed, treatable chronic illness, not the death sentence it was in the 80's--I wondered if its urgency and relevance might have been diminished. But this is not the case; AIDS was not cured, but instead subdued, facilitating apathy in a world already fatigued from caring about HIV/AIDS.

Her blistering attack on government, drug companies, the church and individual listeners for their apathy, greed, intolerance and bigotry is a message whose obsolesence we should welcome, as it can only be irrelevent when we reach what Galás envisioned in the album's subtitle : the end of the epidemic.

Plague Mass can be moving, fascinating and sometimes almost comical, but it's not exactly danceable or easy to listen to; still I hope you will get some enjoyment out of these tracks.


Post a Comment

<< Home