Diamanda Galás Breaks the Listener with ‘Broken Gargoyles’

“It’s stagnant just to live in one’s own life.”


You may be shocked to hear that Diamanda ​​Galás’ new album, Broken Gargoyles, is not a light-hearted, easy-listening romp. The subject matter is extremely heavy, expertly translated into a sonic onslaught that is by turns excruciating and beautiful—and always brutal.

Music critic Brett Callwood spoke with ​​Galás about her latest dive into the darkness: “I started to work on this piece because of the poem ‘Das Fieberspital’ by Georg Heym, which means the ‘The Fever Hospital.’ When I read it, I was stunned. When I discover a poem like that, it gives me a reason to continue. It gives me a reason to live because it’s stagnant just to live in one’s own life. It never has interested me in the least. I find it much more interesting to start to analyze a poem that hits me hard. That’s how it happened so it started then. When I moved back to New York, I did some concerts so I was working on that, and this piece had just begun, so I worked on the first part of this piece, I performed it in a few European places and in the Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania as a performance work.”

Callwood points out that Broken Gargoyles is uncomfortable and thought-provoking, concerning, in part, the suffering of soldiers that returned from World War I with mutilated faces, multiple limbs missing, burned throats, and other atrocious injuries, and were kept out of public view. ​​By including a booklet of poetry, translations, and photographs with the new album, Galás supplies plenty of context to help listeners understand the layers of history in her work:  “There are people coming back from Afghanistan living in places with mold and no windows, and they’re put in these places because they have nowhere to go. No one’s going to take care of them. But we don’t see that in the news.”

For the full interview and links to videos, click here. —VV editors

• Galás’ Broken Gargoyles is out August 26.





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