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Galas, Diamanda / Defixiones, Will And Testament
Album:Defixiones, Will And Testament Collection:General
Artist:Galas, Diamanda Added:12/2003
Label:Mute Records Ltd 

A-File Activity
Add Date:2004-03-01 Pull Date:2004-05-03 
Week Ending:28 Mar21 Mar14 Mar7 Mar
Airplays:1111

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Album Review
Gabe
Reviewed 2004-02-09 
Diamanda Galas - Defixiones

Combining, as she does, relevant texts, appropriate languages, and sine qua non sonics, Galas increases the power of each of the components. Liturgies, poems, and laments in Armenian, Arabic, Assyrian and Greek here, sung in supernaturally broad ranges and in varying genres characterize this piece. This piece is more serious, yet more accessible, than most of Galas’ original works. The themes are of a piece with her speaking out for victims. The arrangements are simpler and Galas’ vocals here seem to have lost any traces of gratuitous gymnastics, being stripped to genuine horror and sadness. CD 1 is a studio recording of a major piece. CD 2 contains live recordings of shorter pieces on the theme (and thus has a bit of applause at the end of each track). I offer this my highest recommendation. However, you CANNOT appreciate the power of this album if you treat it as background music. It requires active listening. (ps. The reason that there is a CD-R for disc two is that Mute sent only disc one.)

DISC ONE
1. A deep, Tuvan-like drone sets the foundation for Galas’ soaring lament. At about 9:00, a recited portion appears to be the eyewitness account of an atrocity. Following that, Galas launches into an even more moving soliloquy
2. An Arabic text regarding the siege of Beirut in 1982 fits as an almost modern-day reverberation of the earlier (and much more bloody) events recounted elsewhere; the faintly howling desert wind is a horrific accent
3. More lament now than recounting, Galas here pours out waves of grief and a chillingly alienated piano solo
4. A heartachingly beautiful song of displacement
5. A swarm of audio effects converge on Galas’ ever more harsh recital of a poem of defiance; once you embark on this tune, you are held pretty rapt, I assure you
6. A more simply arranged reprise of the lament of track 1
7. Monastery boys chorus and a male recitation
8. Stentorian English-language incantation and more emotionally loaded Greek verses about the horrors of the Anatolian massacre over a disturbingly unpredictable and random drum sequence; has a long quiet fade so be ready to segue wit about a minute left

DISC TWO
1. Piano and voice closely tracking each other (though not quite unison) on a somber song
2. Not a happy ditty exactly but relatively pain-free, as it’s only a theoretical “If I Die …” lyric
3. Sinister, strangled twist on what might be a French music hall number; it’s on the thin line between dread and enjoyment
4. If the preceding song was off-kilter French music hall, this one is warbly, therefore disturbing French circus music, albeit with Spanish lyrics – about life on the road, aka exile/homelessness/torment
5. Cold start builds into impassioned crescendo, settles back
6. Greek but could be somber klezmer melodically; lyrically of course, this whole album could be relevant to Jewish travails; Galas sings “nicely” here
7. The sickly piano returns, as does Galas’ seething, guttural mode, here to especially good effect as the lyrics are in German and the music repeatedly climbs the scales and hangs there at the top until it starts again; tense
8. A busy sort of tune, though just voice and piano; there’s a lot of anxious arpeggiation and desperate monotone singing in the middle, with a bit more air at the two ends
9. Galas’ blues/gospel finale workout; blues shouting like no other blues shouting but here oddly sedate; check out the version on La Serpenta Canta

Track Listing
1.The Dance: Ter Vogormia 9.Songs Of Exile: Hastayim Yasiyorum
2.The Dance: The Desert (Part One) 10.Songs Of Exile: San Pethano
3.The Dance: The Desert (Part Two) 11.Songs Of Exile: Je Rame
4.The Dance: Sevda Zinciri 12.Songs Of Exile: Epistola A Los Transeuntes
5.The Dance: Holokaftoma 13.Songs Of Exile: Birds Of Death
6.The Dance: Ter Vogormia 14.Songs Of Exile: Anoixe
7.The Dance: The Eagle Of Tkhuma 15.Songs Of Exile: Todesfuge
8.The Dance: Orders From The Dead 16.Songs Of Exile: Artémis
 17.Songs Of Exile: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean