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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
January 2004

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

DIAMANDA GALAS / La Serpenta Canta (Mute)
DIAMANDA GALAS / Defixiones Will and Testament (Mute)
It would have been quite easy for Galas to take her place as some kind of 80's goth icon after she emerged onto the scene with her apocalyptic imagery-invoking performances, alien, multi-octave voice/effect experiments and religious texts, but there has always been a depth and complexity to her compositions that she doesn't always get the credit for. She also, like some of the best artists, isn't content to sit in a pre-designated genre or scene but rather traverse many, utilizing the many facets of her powerful vocal abilities. The past decade has seen Diamanda collaborate with John Paul Jones and release extreme examples of electronic voice manipulation, but mainly concentrate on delivering her voice in pure, untouched form with minimal accompaniment. She does just that on both of these new 2CD sets, her first releases since 1998, and they show her to be completely slogging it out like the queen prizefighter she is.

La Serpenta Canta revolves around Galas in a live/piano setting, returning to a recent theme of R&B and American roots, while injecting acrobatic Eastern influences, again showing her deep immersion in the notion of history and preservation, something that has been very intrinsic to her work in both historical and personal contexts (the latter especially when dealing with the legacy of AIDS in her life and the world). Defixiones Will and Testament (the other release out simultaneously) delves deeper into her connection to her heritage; it's a operatic documentation of a swept-under-history's-rug period of genocides that took place on Armenians, Assyrians, and her beloved Greek ancestors in Turkey in the early 20th century. Here, Galas disembodies herself even moreso than than on La Serpenta Canta, travelling through adaptations of poet-martyrs, French symbolists, and more with chilling effect. Galas combines so much into her vision: the Deep South, improvisation, Rembetika, and THAT voice, a complete in-your-face reminder to those who chose not to remember.

I'M BEING GOOD / 8 Of Us R Dead (Infinite Chug)
I sure do miss the bungee-jump guitar antics of Trumas Water and Polvo (I think the Brits have named it "squirrel rock" if I am not mistaken), and despite all the angular, edgy, wound-too-tight axeslinging bands around these days, I only hear real innovation in a handful. Uberhund is one of them, England's I'm Being Good is another. They're too much of a mess to be lumped in with the ultra-organized math rock contingent, but the clusters of weirdness they provide on any drop of the needle and the definite threads of ideas that hold it all together put them up there with Deerhoof as fine purveyors of falling apart methodically. This is their 3rd or 4th record, and they're totally boss.

AE / Bootleg (Sonig)
Made up of members of Urban Sax, Stock Hausen & Walkman, Dummy Run, and Rectangle label honcho Noel Akchote, this outfit has morphed from a rough electro-punk unit to a freakout of collage, choppy, channel-change rhythms and punk ethos as exhibited recently by loveable laptop lunks like Kid 606 and our own Donna Summer. Despite the avalanche of sound attack, though, this throws a huge wrench in to the works by being amazingly melodic and accessible, as a sort of halfway juncture between some of the woolier late 90s electro-antics of SH&W and the electronic pummelcore so prevalent nowadays. Very cool indeed.

ADAM ANT / Save the Gorilla (Dian Fossey Organization)
Adam Ant benefit single for Dian Fossey's Organization (Dian depicted Gorillas In the Mist), to the tune of "Stand and Deliver"! That's all.

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