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Album Review: At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem [Live] by Diamanda Galás
Great, Based on 2 Critics
Pitchfork - 77 Based on rating 7.7/10
Three and a half decades after Diamanda Galás' first recordings as a solo vocalist, she still talks about her singing as an act of violence. Musing to Rolling Stone about her performance of the folk standard "O Death"--versions of which are included on both of her new records, All the Way and At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem -- she describes it as a cycle of destruction. "You keep breaking it and breaking it and breaking it and desiccating it and putting it back together until it becomes a new life form," she says.
Appreciating Diamanda Galás' voice is like learning to process the rhythm of a new language - it's only after repeat listens that her words become distinct sound objects. The American singer originally trained in bel canto, a traditional operatic singing style loose in definition but with a Romantic emphasis on the natural accent and character of the singer's voice. Her melodic lines often sound improvised, with distinct personalities developing with the unfolding of her voice, sometimes sounding as if she's embodying a different character depending on her pitch and tone.