Essential New Music: Diamanda Galás’ “All The Way” And “At Saint Thomas The Apostle Harlem”

Every time Diamanda Galás sings, it feels like something bad is going to happen. Whether it be her originals or gutting recognizable standards from the inside out with her astronomical range and avant-garde piano playing, the music that passes through Galás’ lens feels like guerilla incantations being delivered at the gates of hell moments before the Earth’s crust opens up and swallows humanity whole. Or worse. The wild-eyed-wilder-lunged chanteuse’s two new albums fall along this unnerving/horrifying line: All The Way funereally reimagines Sinatra, Thelonious Monk and Johnny Paycheck as well as longtime live favorite “O Death,” while At Saint Thomas The Apostle Harlem offers live performances of Italian, German, French and Greek “death songs” in her inimitable style. Both elicit a simultaneous sense of terror and wonder as to what demons are flowing through her bloodstream and how she’s managed to harness them for the power of artistic good.

—Kevin Stewart-Panko