DEFIXIONES WILL AND TESTAMENT
DOUBLE LIVE ALBUM MUTE, PLAYGROUND
RELEASE: DECEMBER 15, 2003 REVIEW: FEBRUARY 10, 2004
of young Armenian boy (Syria)”, “Rotting heads of massacred
Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians.”, “Young Turk fishing for
bodies in the Smyrna Gulf for the purpose of loot.” These are just
a few of the captions for pictures in the booklet of “Defixiones
Will and Testament”, and an indication, if one is needed, that this
ins’t exactly your average pop album.
Will and Testament” is an outcry against genocide, and in particular
what has been called “the minor holocaust” of Asia Minor,
the memory of which has apparently been suppressed. Using piano and minimal
electronics, Galás tries to give voice to the long since dead by
using an Armenian liturgy, fragments of a poem by Italian author and film
director Pier Paolo Pasolini and bits of her own earlier material, among
other things. The result is an at times frighteningly intense canvas splashed
with blood and crushed bones and tainted by injustices past and present.
Since the multilingual nature of the project renders many parts incomprehensible
to me, it’s also at times close to a sort of abstract expressionism
where Galás voice speaks out with majestic pride amid all the conjuring
of human suffering where the words themselves make less of an impact than
the performance of them.
Will and Testament” is ambitious to say the least. It also takes
Galás into darker realms of the soul than most of us would like
to visit, and is a difficult listen in many ways. I’m captivated
by it at times, but other times the wild splashes of piano and the shriek
of Galás’ voice is just a little too much for me to take.
So, although impressive, it’s not an album I will play very often.