Diamanda Galas - All The Way LP
Label: Intravenal Sound Operations
Though Diamanda Galas' new record All the Way is a collection of standards, very few artists could make other people's songs sound so distinctly their own. Using only subdued piano and her expansive, enormous voice, Galas transforms songs popularized by Frank Sinatra and Johnny Paycheck (amongst others) into explorations of timbre and Gothic introspection. There are very few effects added to the piano or her voice post-production, Galas' uncanny vibrato and operatic growl carrying the listener through her longest notes, the occasional echo delay filling the space between words. Despite the difficulty of sometimes understanding the exact words Galas sings, the narratives are instead told through her vocal delivery–the songs' predictable emotional cliches shattered and remolded. Two tracks off All the Way were recorded live, a fact that makes the performances that much more unbelievably stunning.
Much attention and praise over the decades has rightly been given to Galas' unmistakable voice, but her virtuosic piano playing is almost equally as impressive. Possibly influenced by the jagged-but-fluid style of Thelonious Monk (whose "Round Midnight" is found on All the Way), Galas knows when to lay back, when to bring the hammer down, and when to explode. Moments of dissonant darkness are complimented by gentle touches of feathery jazz chords, which might evolve into something akin to the blues. Especially on "Round Midnight" and "O Death," Galas floats and crashes through motifs, alluding to the listener's sonic expectations before completely destroying them. Her first new record in almost ten years, All the Way is not to be missed by die-hard fans or those new to Diamanda Galas.