THE DIVINE PUNISHMENT
Original Issue: 1986 Mute Records (STUMM 27)
Reissue: 1989 Mute Records (CD STUMM 33) Buy it here!
Margot-meter: 4,5 moons / 5
Diamanda Galàs: the woman (in musick, but probably in art in general) I admire most...intelligent, provocative, uncompromisable, theatrical, extreme...and even sexy!
Faint-of-heart...PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS RECORD!!!
1. Deliver Me From Mine Enemies
1. This Is the Law of the Plague
2. Deliver Me from Mine Enemies
3. We shall not accept your Quarentine
4. Deliver Me
5. Yiati O Ozoe
6. Psalm 22
2. Free Among the Dead
1. Psalm 88
3. Sono L'Antichristo
In the eighties Diamanda recorded a trilogy of albums about the AIDS epidemic. Each of the albums of the trilogy focus on different aspects of the epidemic and feature totally different musical approaches as well.
The Divine Punishment is the first of the trilogy and is perhaps the most avantgarde and unmusical of the three. This album focuses on society's judgment on the diseased person and is composed almost entirely of her readings of various old testament texts.
Her voice sometimes uses a mocking nasal tone and sometimes a stretched moan and the biblical texts feel totally alien with droning synthesized background noises added. This really doesn't qualify as music but perhaps more as a really experimental spoken word performance though some wordless and beautiful Arabic style wailing that Diamanda often uses appears as well.
The album consists only of two long tracks but contained in these two tracks are many different "songs" or recitations as well as some moments of wordless vocals including the previously mentioned wailing as well as strange multi layered groaning and other even harder to describe sounds.
The album only breaks of from this scheme in it's last few minutes when Diamanda over booming piano chords performs the only lyric not lifted from the bible but written by herself in Italian called "Sono L'Antichristo" which means simply "I am the Antichrist".
Here she howls such phrases such as "I am the holy fool" and "I am the butchers meat" as well as producing perhaps the most inhuman screams of her career. The meaning of this track is to portrait an homosexual or AIDS positive individual scorned by his society giving in and saying: yes! I am just as evil and depraved as you believe me to be!
The final moments of The Divine Punishment sets the stage for the second installment of the trilogy "The Saint Of The Pit" which focuses more on the view of the AIDS infected person himself.