Asthmatic Kitty Records

My Brightest Diamond

This Is My Hand

Catalog: AKR103 • Cover Art: Bernd Preiml and David Stith
Release date: September 16, 2014

CD and LP include immediate download of album (MP3).
LP also includes download coupon to MP3.

This Is My Hand began with a question. What is the value of music?

My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden was working on an audio-visual collaboration, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Belper’s six-hour long cine-opera, River of Fundament, set in the automobile factories of latter-day Detroit. In the film, a high school-style marching band is seen in procession through the streets of Motor City and playing in its vast, echoing factory spaces. This struck a chord in Shara, for whom the new album would be a purposeful readdressing of music-making on the most basic, tribal level.

“In the States, the marching band is something that is done in school, so it still represents something inclusive, something anyone can learn,” Shara explains. “I loved the communal quality . . . the way drums and horns travel in large three-dimensional spaces.” But it also sparked a search for more personal meaning. “The genesis of the new album was looking at the changes that have happened in music over my career, and trying to reevaluate what [music] meant to me in the first place. What is the value of music?”

Answering  that became a journey beyond the composition of music, which Shara has demonstrated mastery over time and time again, and into the cultural history of music “I had this ‘back-to-basics’ moment of reading how humans were making sounds before we were using words,” says Shara. “The album started with these fundamental ideas of music’s function. I just made a list: clap, singing along, and so on . . . ways in which people can simply join in with music.”

The opening track on This Is My Hand, ‘Pressure,’ is an invitation. “Diamonds,” Shara sings, “so wild I cannot tame them / so shiny I cannot name them.” Within seconds of lowering the needle, listeners hear a sharp, drum-rolled call to attention, courtesy of the Detroit Party Marching Band What follows is a Shara-choreographed whirlwind of horns, woodwinds, beats, xylophones and synths. The sound propels one of the immediate songs in the MBD canon to date. The ensuing ‘ Before the Words’ (“Before the verse there was the sound”) and the title track are no less direct in exploring and defining the fundamentals of not just pop music, but, well, life. “This is my voice/ this is my heart / this is my choice,” sings Shara. And ‘Lover Killer,’ with its imagery of battlefields encircled by crows, evokes the influence of Daniel Levitin. ‘Apparition,’ the final track, is a Tron-like electronic, slow-motion departure from the physical world.

Produced by Shara herself and keyboardist Zac Rae, This Is My Hand is a bold chapter in the unfurling MBD story. Its exploration of music and its rhythmic urgency escort Shara’s chamber-music aesthetic out of the chamber and back into the dance hall and rock bar.

    Press Quotes

  • "One of the most powerful and dramatic voices of the last decade." NPR
  • "...has a feeling for both the grandeur and the grain, building every sweeping gesture in her music out of a swarm of small details." New York Times
  • "Sounds like a modern-day Nina Simone." ELLE
  • "It's fascinating, deep and explorable, with elemental lyrics written in wonderful structure and a kind of misty mystery that seeps in only when we talk about our own prehistory. It's packed with performances that are top-notch from every angle, and the more you listen to the record, the more it gets into your bones." Huffington Post
  • "A successful exercise in percussive, jagged art-pop that explores themes of self- acceptance, sensuality, and community." Pitchfork
  • "You know you’re in the presence of something special the first time you hear ‘Pressure,’ the lead track on the new album." Detroit Free Press
  • "A gorgeous new album." KCRW