Review: Diamanda Galás’ “All the way”

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After nearly a decade from the unforgettable “Guilty Guily Guilty”  (Mute Records, 2008) The return of Diamanda Galás has been in the name of abundance. Two albums, released on the 24thof March, for the Greek-American composer: “All the way” (Intravenal Sound Operations) and the live record “At Saint Thomas The Apostle Harlem”. Two demonic journeys throughout one of the most powerful voices of this millennium, this time struggling with personal and more-than-impressive standard jazz and blues covers.

Revivals that La Serpenta brilliantly outclasses, thanks to her  unmistakable talent and her spectral bravura. Starting with a unique version of “All the way” , here indomitable jazz ready to give off the frightening of a defenceless soul to world injustices. For those who don’t know her career, Diamanda resembles the Aztec raingod, Tlaloc: she asks the listener for a higher sacrifice in order to sublimate all the sickness of this cynical world. In her words, Life  can be translated as energy that punctually gets absorbed by her stormy voice and when she approaches a song, she inevitably makes it blush. Indeed her high notes are actual cataclysms, but nobody has ever been as elegant as her, not even the purest Etta James or  Dinah Washington. Her class and her restraint have earned her a noble, respectable and varied career, capable of swinging between the ani-aids lamentations of “The plague mass” and the raw  featuring with John Paul Jones in “The sporting life”. And here comes, like a pearl of a necklace lost at the bottom of the sea, “The thrill is gone” and “You don’t know what love is”.

In the former , Chet Baker’s success, the artist looks impudent, gothic as always, imploring like a carving knife (the final line belongs to a goddess and to her punishment, obviously not to a human being), in the latter, a splendid Nina Simone’s rendition, Diamanda grants the audience a moment of pure auditive hypnosis, reminding us – like in the Sioux Creation mith – that the four sky gods (that is to say the earth elements)  were created through the singing. It seems to see her, while listening to her voice: sitting at her piano, raven-haired,  expressing her wild fury , aware of being such an unbelievable creative tank.

Her work is always an epiphany and if cards have to be foolishly considered devilish, Mrs Gàlas perfectly knows how to use hers to her advantage: in “O death” the impetuosity of her voice is indescribable. In Johnny Paycheck’s “Pardon me I’ve got someone to kill” we can find a burning piano, due to that singer’s vice of ravaging souls for filtering them by human anguishes. Diamanda, eventually, is like a toddler: she relates the whole experience to her  miraculous voice, and we are so deeply grateful to her for that. So – freaking – grateful.

Tracklist:

All the Way:

01 All The Way
02 You Don’t Know What Love Is
03 The Thrill Is Gone
04 Round Midnight
05 O Death
06 Pardon Me I’ve Got Someone To Kill

At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem:

01 Verrá la more e avrá tuoi occhi
02 Anoixe Petra
03 Angels
04 Die Stunde Kommt
05 Fernand
06 O Death
07 Amsterdam
08 Artemis
09 Let My People Go

 

 

 

 

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