I said it last year and I’ll say it again: Halloween is the time of year when everyone lets their hidden fantasy loose, their inner demon out, their freak flag fly… and the next day we wipe off the eyeliner and fake blood and shaving cream and go back to business as usual. But for some people, grappling with the dark side is what they do every day of their lives.
You can bet Diamanda Galas is one of those people. She’s an American singer who was trained classically but has put her three-and-a-half-octave range voice to making records that will more or less make your blood run cold, in a good way. Some things you should know about her:
Galas publicly criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not caring about AIDS victims in her performance Plague Mass, and she has spent much of her artistic career speaking out against general indifference to the epidemic. She has we are all HIV+ tattooed on her knuckles, okay.
Her songs deal with murder, genocide, the death penalty, and Aileen Wuornos. You really can’t get any heavier than that, and I’m not surprised that she’s not better-known… after all, I’d rather dance than have a panic attack most days. Still, once in a while it’s good to light some candles, drink some wine and put on a record that will frighten you to within an inch of your life, and then bring you back with its beauty. More or less.
Here is a video of her performing Billie Holiday’s Gloomy Sunday; the video begins with a pretty righteous commentary on both pop music and Galas’ disposition.