One of Diamanda's most personal and powerful works. Outstand
Steward Willons | Illinois | 04/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Diamanda Galas makes some of the most uncompromising music in the world. Just look at the reactions in the reviews. It's nearly impossible to just "sorta" like Galas - she's either terrifying and wonderful, or a source of unlistenable garbage. Obviously, I fit in the former category. It goes beyond her incredible vocal range or her bizarre extended techniques - it's her artistic vision, as if her entire oeuvre combines to create this massive wave of anger, bitterness, and defiance. It's definitely not for those with delicate sensibilities.
Having said that, lets talk about "Plague Mass." I consider this one of her most well-conceived and perfectly realized works to date. It's one of the more powerful musical experiences I've yet had, even if the text doesn't necessarily speak to me as directly as it might to some. I've not known anyone with AIDS, but the raw anger of the work transcends the message.
There are instrumental parts, but they're really just there to support her voice and add some dramatic tension until midway through when percussionists enters. Galas employs equal parts music performance and theater. Over the course of the work, she channels a range of personalities, many times over the course of a single section. You can't always understand the words, but the tone, texture, and delivery gives the listener a pretty good idea what's going on.
I could describe the libretto, but that's probably the easiest aspect of the work to understand. Actually *listening* to the music in the correct frame of mind is much more difficult. Again, many will not enjoy the suffocating darkness or the aural assault of Galas's voice and that's fine - it's not easily accessible in any way. That said, I think we're best off listening without expectations. We normally listen to music with a more-or-less similar frame of mind. Most music follows a set of rules and conventions, which allow it to communicate easily with a wide audience. Experimental music such as this ignores those conventions, and therefore, we must set aside our preconceived notions about music when approaching something as radical as the "Plague Mass." To be fair, even after listening with an open mind, some listeners may still find it unsettling to the point of unlistenability. That's a perfectly reasonable reaction, but I would hope that before coming to that conclusion, everyone who decides to check this album out gives it a serious chance judging it on its own terms.
I recommend this to adventurous listeners and fans of the avant garde. If you're undecided, I'd highly recommend listening to the online samples before purchasing. It should give a fairly accurate idea of what to expect.
"Plague Mass" is definitely one of Galas's most personal works and it really comes through in a powerful way. If you can get past the oppressive darkness, you'll find a very moving experience."
A Haunting Masterpiece
Viva Caballe | 04/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a requiem mass,for all people throughout the world who have died of aids.A disease possibly created by fascists to kill off the gays,blacks,and all the undesirables.This cd is a beautiful and sometimes frightening performance by Galas for all who have suffered needlessly.Gala's brother had died of aids,and she knows many other who have died,from the horrific disease.In this performance she also takes a stab at all those right wing politicans and fundamentalists who misinterpret the bible,and use religion as a political weapon,and a means of control and repression,which inevitably causes many millions of people to suffer,and greatly reduces their quality of life.Galas is very outspoken advocate and provocator.This is one unnerving,passionate,and powerful album.This album is recorded live and she performs meaningful poetic texts,from different sources,including the bible,and from her own pen.Some of it spoken,but most of it sung with her incredible otherwordly operatic voice.The plague mass actually sounds similiar to an opera or classical requiem,with a heavy avantguard influnece.The acoustics are amazing,and her operatic voice is massive and cuts like steel through a cathedral!"