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Diamanda Galas

Biography

Listening to Galas perform, especially in person, can leave you shorn of everything you thought you knew about the human voice or what you consider beautiful. Possessing an awesome range spanning four octaves, Galas jettisons from deep liturgical tones to a piercing wail that will shave the flesh off your bones -- all in the same breath. Her plague trilogy of the 1980s remains her finest achievement, though her voice is still a threat and her disregard for singing conventions as brazen as ever. Described as "a plague mass in three parts composed under AIDS' specter," the trilogy shuffles passages from Leviticus, Psalms, and Symbolist poetry with her own venomous parodies of Christian rhetoric. Like a modern-day haruspex, Galas divines the fate of man's soul by an unflinching perusal of his entrails. Of her post-trilogy work, Malediction and Prayer outdoes the rest. Here her songbook includes unexpected selections from Son House and Phil Ochs, and her voice, once avenging, now exudes compassion.
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