My Brightest Diamond
Tear It Down
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My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden has decided to set loose her bobby pins and let her hair fly on the ambient dance floor. Her latest semi-collaboration with 13 different remixers, entitled “Tear It Down”, reworks songs from the highly acclaimed album, “Bring Me The Workhorse” featuring tracks by Alias, Lusine, Murcof, Stakka and Gold Chains. Oh, it’s international too! With diplomatic representatives from Belgium, France, Mexico, The UK and America (East and West Coasts baby!), the remixes range from drum-n-bass, to glitchy ambient, minimalism, and get-your-booty-on-the-dance-floor club music.
The wonders of the internet abound and as evidence of the modern times, where being in the same room with someone is no longer necessary for collaboration, the relationships to the remixers vary from being friends, to fans, to MySpace finds. Via the internet, tracks floated through the sky like Willy Wonka’s tv converter and landed in bedrooms and studios with wonderful result. Having crafted songs for five years, meticulously deliberated over string arrangements for two years, flying coast to coast for mixing and recording sessions, and generally laboring over every aspect of “Bring Me The Workhorse”, Shara was ready to hand over the reins and see what the songs could do without any of her guidance.
“Tear It Down” stands on it’s own horsie legs. In comparison to Shara’s control in the songs of “Bring Me The Workhorse”, these electronic horsetrainers loosen up the forms and smooth over some of the rougher emotional outbursts. Many of the remixers adhere to the original song forms, snazzing them up or stripping them down, and there are also examples of djs excerpting the tracks to create something entirely new and not song form related, focusing on one element and elaborating, rather than being bound to the storytelling. Shara says, “The variety of their approaches made this project exhilaratingly unpredictable!”
The album opens with indie beloved Anticon artist, Alias, rocking his version of “Golden Star”. While the song form is the same, we hardly recognize it. Gone are the angry guitar rumblings and welcomed in are beautiful electronic twinkles and killer kick drums. While on tour in Seattle, Ghostly artist Lusine came to shake Shara’s hand from the stage. Now she knows what he looks like. His rolling, moody, sexy version of “Workhorse” employs vibraphone, major chords and soaring strings, finding its home at track two on the album. Gold Chains’ remix nabbed the title track trophy with his club reconstruction of “Freak Out”. “It’s time to tear it down” and she did and he did and you will. Having featured English DJ/producer Stakka’s remix on the single for “Disappear”, we are still enjoying its dramatic trapeze act drum beat. Like a secret mission, Shara went to Stakka’s Brooklyn apartment, slipping the split tracks through his mail slot. A week later, the amazing 16-bit version landed on her proverbial email doorstep. Still they have never met. Will they ever? Eyebrows raised.
That mysterious and haunting male voice from “Magic Rabbit” appears again, but this time in the Scott Walker-esque remix of “Gone Away”. Who is that masked, multi-talented man? Also known for his subconsious drawings on “Bring Me The Workhorse”, David Stith emerges subtley. The clamor and noise seem to hush in the quiet suspension of his gorgeous and icey remix. The backstory begins in the summer of 2004 which found Shara recording demos in a Brooklyn basement converted into museum, The Museum of Disembodied Folk Art. In the next room lived David Stith who would creep out during cookie and milk breaks and he and Shara would discuss music, art, life and the Starbucks coffee uniform. David moved away momentarily but Shara kept snooping around his diggs, borrowing microphones, triangle beaters and getting him to sing, draw and remix on projects for her! Cheers to more collabs between friends! Speaking of friends, Mr. Stith made a mix cd of some electronic favs to help Shara research remixers and a mix by Mr. Stith’s pal, Alfred Brown was nestled there. Shara heard his music and loved and then wrote to Mr. Brown for his minimalistic touch.
MySpace can be a beautiful way of finding people, when it’s working and not slow as Christmas. That’s how Shara found the Belgian electronic beauty of Haruki. With what looked like a bird on wallpaper, Shara was drawn in by the id photo and began listening. With a delicate hand, Haruki preserves the song “Sparkling” while opening it up to shiny glitchy electronic worlds reaching beyond the organic.
If you recognized the sounds of DJ Kenny M and David Keith a.k.a. NC47, it might be because you heard the Awry Remix EP! Before there was My Brightest Diamond, there was the band Awry, a collaboration between Shara and guitarist Shane Yarbrough. Awry made two full length records and released a short remix EP, so it seemed only natural to have some of the old school djs represented on the MBD remix album. Local Brookynite, DJ Kenny M makes us move to the dance floor with his drum-n-bass version of “Freak Out” that might just possibly maybe, but we aren’t sure, reference “Le Freak, C’est Chic”. The vibey groove of David Keith’s “Something of an End”, highlights those original buried string tracks, and gives chilling isolation to the line “beautiful and terrible”, but this interpretation makes you feel less like the world is coming to end and more like you know everything is going to be okay. Sounds Are Active artist, Siamese Sisters bring their own magic production, scrambling the text of “The Good and The Bad Guy”. What is she saying? She wants to be the bad guy now? My how things change!
When Shara contacted the French group Strings of Consciousness about doing a remix, what intrigued her was that the four piece band composes together and performs their music live. However with deadlines quickly approaching, Strings of Consciousness decided that their group methods would be too slow if they were to do a traditional remix, so they emailed an already finished track for Shara to sing a new vocal over. The instrumental seemed perfect for the song “Gone Away” so Shara tapped into her trip-hop vein and delivered a new smoky version of those meloncholy lines “Far away you’ve gone and left me here” as if at once in a trance, then wailing despairingly the last “Goodbye”. After all that, there’s a celebration of deconstruction with Wheat and Cedar AV’s ripped apart version of “Disappear”. Delicate yet explosive it pronounces once again how “we aren’t meant to stay here very long”.