- Released: September 7, 1993
- Label: Mute U.S.
Entertainment Weekly - 10/15/93, p.76
"...[Diamanda Galas] specializes in torturous, brutal sound experiments that make Nine Inch Nails sound like Muzak..." - Rating: B
Personnel: Diamanda Galas (vocals); Philip-Dimitri Galas (vocals, accordion).
Recorded live at The Kitchen, New York, February-March 1992. Includes liner notes by Robert R. Conroy and Michael Flanagan.
With VENA CAVA avant garde diva Diamanda Galas continues her exploration of humans afflicted with illness. While previous albums, like 1991's PLAGUE MASS, dealt overtly with the AIDS epidemic, VENA CAVA finds Galas adopting the persona of a character suffering from an unnamed disease and teetering on the verge of sanity. In this way the album is in thematic keeping with Galas's earlier work, but also extends her discography past the overtly political and in the direction of open-ended fictional texts.
Galas's voice--a high soprano capable of tremendous range and a Pandora's box of wails, screeches, mutterings, and the like--is at center stage. There are tunes, lullabies, and convulsive vocalizations here, yet it's all in the service of painting a portrait of the album's protagonist, a woman grappling with an ever-loosening grip on reality. Unsettling and emotionally draining, the album is not an easy listen, but fans of avant-leaning work and bold vocal experimentation will find much to appreciate here.