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coverpic flag US-California - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 3 - 01/23/97

Diamanda Galas
Schrei X

The avant-garde is not something that can be easily labeled. Good/bad, revolutionary/derivative, music/noise all seem irrelevant for they can all apply at some point and to some degree. One of the reasons for this is that avant-garde music is extremely subjective--one listener hears angels while another hears demons. But one thing is for sure, in the case of Diamanda Galas: it is not for the squeamish.

Schrei X is based upon Schrei 27, a radio broadcast consisting of eleven short pieces performed over a span of twenty-seven minutes that originally aired in 1994. This is preceded by Schrei X Live, a live presentation of these vignettes interspersed with two more compositions, featuring texts by Galas, Saint Thomas Aquinas and from the Book of Job. As anyone who has reviewed this album will inform you, "schrei" is German for shriek, and there is a lot of shrieking to be found, together with cackles and moans and shrills and other assorted guttural outbursts associated with insane asylums and torture chambers.

So why listen? Unlike the love songs and proclamations of disillusionment found on many an album, Schrei X explores the disintegration of the mind left in isolation, the mind institutionalized or buried alive, the mind repeatedly attacked when most vulnerable. Out of this nightmarish, assailing isolation comes pain and suffering, but the mind has defenses. Other voices arise and sing praise and rejoice at their liberation. Schrei X begins with a single voice crying out, shrieking, and ends in a chorus of voices born to fill the solitude of depravation.

As the album itself avows: This is not ambient music.

Copyright © 1997 J. A. Gilbert e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Diamanda Galas article/review: Malediction and Prayer.

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