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Things We Saw / Things We Missed @ Big Ears 2018 – Diamanda Galas / Nief Norf

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Diamanda Galas
Nief Norf

Bruce Levenstein recently posted this question on his Twitter account

It may seem puzzling at first (and some people even wrote it off as bad take), but her performance at Big Ears made us feel that Bruce might be onto something. Much of Diamanda’s performance (which took place at the Tennessee Theatre) consisted of songs from All the Way, a collection of blues/jazz standards (and one original) that came out last year on her own Intravenal Sound Operations imprint.

While her trademark shriek/demonic howl made appearance early on, she mostly stuck to more traditional singing occasionally veering into what could have been described as the sound of a witch putting hex on her victims.


Next day we paid a visit to Tennessee Theater again to catch a performance by Nief Norf (who double as ensemble and music organization) who performed their rendition of Steve Reich’s Quartets

Formed in 2005, Nief-Norf was created by Illinois natives Andrew Bliss and Kerry O’Brien, who took their ensemble’s name from a descriptor of strange sounds. Some say “bleep-blop”; they prefer “nief-norf.” During their undergraduate years as percussionists, the “nief-norf” moniker came to stand for any music that was experimental or weird.

While we missed their earlier live score/soundtrack collaboration with Wordless Music (due to Northeaster getting in the way), we had to catch up with Nief-Norf one way or another and we were glad we did – their work on Steve Reich’s piece proved to be rather beautiful/evocative!

Below we collected some of the tweets related to both Diamanda Galas and Nief Norf performances from fellow concertgoers










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