Tag Archives: Diamanda Galas

A Guide to the Discography of Diamanda Galás, Avant-Garde Oracle

Diamanda Galas

Photo by Austin Young

When I spoke with avant-garde legend Diamanda Galás in 2017, she had some understandably harsh words for critics who fail to understand both the deep and intense emotional veins running through her discography as well as the actual musical history behind her work. “People who do not know anything about music—notably, most music critics—really should equip themselves with the changes of the original song and realize that every single one of the chord changes I use are connected to the original chord changes,” she said, speaking about misinterpretations of her performance of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” on All the Way. “It is not a bunch of keys falling down the stairs, and it is not someone who uses the song to her own ends only to destroy it and desecrate it and dismember it.”

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The Best Albums of 2017: #80 – 61

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We’ll be revealing the full list, 20 albums at a time, this whole week.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding.

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Diamanda Galás on Criticism and Context

Diamanda Galas

Photo by Austin Young.

Avant-garde composer and performer Diamanda Galás occupies a distinct place in history; her work is aesthetically unique, situated at the nexus of contemporary classical composition and activism (her music is inextricable from her personal, passionate work with ACT UP!), its threads going back centuries to folk and pop practices from a wide variety of countries. Those whose musical knowledge is not as wide-ranging as hers tend to misunderstand her. This is something she’s understandably furious about, speaking about the critical reception to her new pair of albums, All the Waya collection of traditional and jazz standards, and At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem, a live recording of, as she describes it, “death songs,” from a 2016 New York performance.

She’s speaking specifically about her vicious performance of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” on All the Way: “People who do not know anything about music—notably, most music critics—really should equip themselves with the changes of the original song and realize that every single one of the chord changes I use are connected to the original chord changes. It is not a bunch of keys falling down the stairs, and it is not someone who uses the song to her own ends only to destroy it and desecrate it and dismember it. I’m not doing [that]. I’m using the song and paying homage to what the song is originally about. The problem we have in this society is that those musicians—who perhaps used to be musicians and are now writers—have been replaced by a lot of music writers who don’t know a goddamned thing about music.”

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