LA SERPENTA CANTA
DOUBLE LIVE ALBUM MUTE, PLAYGROUND
RELEASE: DECEMBER 15, 2003 REVIEW: FEBRUARY 10, 2004
of two double albums released simultaneously, “La Serpenta Canta”
sees Diamanda Galás in her most accessible mode. Much like her
last album, “Malediciton and Prayer”, it’s a live performance
of various covers, most of which are songs that have found their way into
some sort of collective notion of “classics”. But unlike a
lot of other artists working in the retromaniac music climate of our times,
there’s not a single hint of a longing for the good old days of
“proper” music in her renditions.
from it. The very thing that makes this recording so impressive is the
way Galás manages to inject the most worn out material with a sense
of bloodcurdling actuality. She attacks the songs with her thundering
piano and shattering voice, bringing what could have been tired old relics
of dust and bones breathing the air of a museum into flesh and blood that’s
right here with us, right now. The most extreme example may be her take
on Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”,
which is stretched out into a seven minute long spell, far removed from
the original but with a force and feeling that’s completely in tune
with the lyrics.
songs are more conventional, but not less overwhelming. A Motown classic
like “My World Is Empty Without You” is turned into a funeral
march, sorrow leaking from its every pore. Another highlight for me is
“Baby’s Insane”, the only original Galás track
here (taken from “This Sporting Life”), a song which has always
given me a very odd feeling of euphoria. It doesn’t fail to do that
here either – it’s the most playful song of the fifteen collected
here, and also highlights Galás phenomenal piano playing.
I said, “La Serpenta Canta” is close in spirit to “Malediciton
and Prayer”, but in my opinion it’s an even stronger recording
– more focused and even more intense. If you, like me, prefer Diamanda
Galás when she approaches conventionality, this is a must.