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Plague Mass (1984 End of the Epidemic)
     

Plague Mass (1984 End of the Epidemic)

5.0 1
by Diamanda Galás
 

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Diamanda Galas, who has been known for both her own work and as a singer of extremely demanding modern scores, created this heart-wrenching cry about the physical suffering caused by the AIDS plague being compounded by the shameful arrogance of self-appointed moralists. Maintaining an incredible intensity and depth for over an hour's solo vocal (recorded live at The

Overview

Diamanda Galas, who has been known for both her own work and as a singer of extremely demanding modern scores, created this heart-wrenching cry about the physical suffering caused by the AIDS plague being compounded by the shameful arrogance of self-appointed moralists. Maintaining an incredible intensity and depth for over an hour's solo vocal (recorded live at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC, with suitably minimal band and electronics backup), Galas proceeds through Mahalia Jackson-influenced spiritual singing, saxophone-like wails, to dramatic dialogues in many dialects and languages ("there are no more tickets to the funeral") to engrossing Portuguese fado singing to taking on the attributes of Satan (in "Sono L'Antichristo," "I Am the Anti-Christ") in order to challenge the concept of a vengeful, instead of compassionate deity (and society), much as Nina Simone did in her controversial song "God Is a Killer" in the '60s. The Mass ends with the heartfelt lyrics "I go to sleep each evening now dreaming of the grave and see the friends I used to know calling out my name. O Lord Jesus, do you think I've served my time ?." At times, the singing is "self-indulgent," but, oh well.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/02/1991
Label:
Mute U.S.
UPC:
0024596104324
catalogNumber:
1043

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Diamanda Galás   Primary Artist,Piano
Blaise Dupuy   Keyboards
David Linton   Percussion,Drums
Ramon Diaz   Percussion

Technical Credits

Diamanda Galás   Arranger
Blaise Dupuy   Producer
Tim Holmes   Liner Notes
Rory Johnston   Executive Producer
Kooster McAllister   Engineer
Kurt Munkasci   Producer
Kurt Muckacsi   Producer
Immanuel Velikovsky   Liner Notes
Scott Widney   Engineer
Naj Wikoff   Producer
Jedediah Wheeler   Producer
Simon Nathan   Engineer
Scott Widney   Engineer
E. Smith   Composer

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Plague Mass (1984 End of the Epidemic) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1991, on the month of October, Diamanda Galas ascended the stage of New York City's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. There, she performed and recorded what may be the most memorable sound ritual ever to be heard by audiences. Both harrowing and angelic, "The Plague Mass" is a vocal exorcism birthed by a modern banshee. In most of the tracks, her operatic screams echo off the walls of the church, piercing the brain like flying shards of stained glass. Other moments allow her to disturb listeners with her hoarse, beastly hisses. However, Galas's intention was not merely to shock the religious. Instead, she turned the Holy Bible inside out in order to address the rampant suffering caused by AIDS. At a time when this disease was ruled as a divine punishment for gays and lesbians, Galas chose to spit gospel curses to every Christian responsible for persecuting and ostracizing HIV-infected patients. With candles flickering in the darkness, she speaks in manic tongues, vomiting forth a gospel hurricane that showed compassion to AIDS victims and unforgiveness to the viciously pious. In "Were you a Witness?," Galas first expresses her anger towards America's mass media. She reminds us that the many of the deaths caused by the disease (including those of famous musicians like Freddy Mercury and Liberace) were treated like exhibits in a sensationalistic tabloid circus. Galas faces the money-hungry reporters and warns, "To all cowards and voyeurs, there are no more tickets to the funeral." "This is the Law of the Plague" incorporates several Psalms and Chapter 15 of the Old Testament. Here, in front of the rolling roar of dragon drums, Galas cackles in the role of a corrupt judge, a sanctimonious fascist who vehemently labels AIDS patients as "unclean" as the lepers who were inflicted the same cruelty centuries before. With a blood red light looming over her, Galas takes an appalling look at society's tendency to be mute. A habit practiced by doctors, priests, and politicians who deliberately avoid the subject to prevent public scandal and (as a result) leave even more defenseless patients for dead. In addition, Galas labels the Devil as an impotent homophobe who can only be aroused by human suffering. "I Wake Up and See the Face of the Devil" allows her to portray the average victim, a human being who is forced to become part of the tragic statistics. With a mind ravaged by dementia, she lies helplessly in a sterilized hospital room as a stern cleric forces her to confess her sins. The members of the clergy are warped into dirty angels that hover over the morgue like buzzards. Later, as the heartbeat percussion rises in its volume, Galas rips out some Revelations text. Predicting the arrival of the Antichrist, she leads 3,000 of his armies to massacre all devoted Christians who slaughtered and oppressed people with HIV. With almost supernatural fury, Galas spews a bitter poem explaining how anyone carrying the virus is shamelessly denied access to medical care, insurance, and surgery. She validly declared Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome as a form of homicide, making audiences aware of how infected men and women are robbed of their dignity. From there, in the track "Sono L'Anticristo," she proudly labels herself the son of Satan, since the Antichrist was as much of an outcast on Earth as Jesus. Then, "Cris D'Aveugle: Blind Man's Cry," a text originally written in 1873 by Tristan Corbiere, is transformed into a sad and spiritual communion played by a demonic symphony. In the French language, Galas leads her choir into a pit of despair, an afterlife that gives no love or comfort after HIV. As the bell tolls, Galas decrys the scourge of injustice, one in which family members killed by AIDS are not properly buried because even the morticians are too afraid to embalm the corpses. During this song (as well as others on this album), her whispers get increas