Where do you recommend I should start with Diamanda Galas's music?
I’m not an expert on her music and there’s still so much of her discography I’ve yet to listen to, but here’s some good places to start:
If you want to start out with something a little more palatable or accessible, I would suggest 1994′s The Sporting Life, the collaborative album Diamanda did with John Paul Jones. It’s still classic Diamanda through and through but she has little flirtations with mainstream music throughout the album that was uncharacteristic of her (but the songs are still great). I’d suggest “Do You Take This Man?”, and the awesome music video that goes with it, as well as this live performance of “Skoteseme” featuring one of the best stage outfits ever:
(If somebody bought me a harness bra like that I would love them forever)
For something a little more abrasive with gothic/industrial undertones but still easy to swallow, 1988′s You Must Be Certain of the Devil is a good album for that, plus it’s my personal favorite album of hers. There are some experimental songs on this album but also a lot of straight-forward (and dare I say catchy) songs as well, including one of her personal best songs IMO, “Double Barrel Prayer” (tw for blood/weapons), and a great rendition of “Let My People Go”.
Now to go way off the deep end into the more experimental things she is know for. 1991′s Plague Mass was recorded live in a cathedral and is one of the most nerve-shattering albums ever. Diamanda was (and still is) an HIV/AIDS activist and this album tackled the stigma placed on HIV+ people by society, as well as how victims of the AIDS epidemic were disrespected even in death. Diamanda’s brother Philip-Dimitri was a victim of the AIDS virus and died in 1986, so her activism and music concerning the AIDS epidemic was intensely personal. Obviously this is heavy subject matter and the music is just as heavy. Check out “This is the Law of the Plague” - it’s 11 minutes of pure biblical wrath.
And then you have the grand-mama of all Diamanda albums, the one that propelled her to international notoriety while simultaneously scaring the bejesus out of everyone, 1982′s The Litanies of Satan. She was 27 years old when she recorded her first album, the age in which many rock stars meet untimely deaths, but it’s something I find oddly fitting. She recorded this in a cold, pitch-black basement in London after staying awake for nearly two days straight and claimed that she had literally been possessed during the recording process. It’s an album that freaks out even the most hardened of listeners, so proceed with your own caution: Here’s a live snippet of The Litanies of Satan performed in 1986.
Here’s a few other miscellaneous Diamanda performances you might enjoy:
- A live cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You”, AKA the only cover of this song that matters.
- A collaboration with John Zorn called “Metamorfosis”
- Her cover of “Gloomy Sunday” which is just beautiful and heartbreaking
- Her cover of “My World is Empty Without You”, another personal favorite of mine
There are so, so many more songs I could link to, but do some surfing around on YouTube and see what you can find! Hope this helped out a little!