My Brightest Diamond: Tear It Down

Cautious, respectful remix album of My Brightest Diamond's operatic debut by a mostly unfamiliar set of remixers

My Brightest Diamond

Tear It Down

Label: Asthmatic Kitty
US Release Date: 2007-03-06
UK Release Date: 2007-02-05

Remix albums, typically a re-casting of a CD's original tracklist re-cut by a different remixer each song, often have a difficult time achieving coherence. A group of songs originally united by theme, or an artist's voice, or a certain musical outlook is necessarily mangled by different interpretations. But how to preserve the album's original experience to provide more than just the momentary thrill of a song you recognize, reworked for the dance floor?

That My Brightest Diamond's remix album, Tear It Down, doesn't totally fail as a cohesive unit is a testament, primarily, to Shara Worden's distinctive voice; but it's also a measure of the invasiveness (or lack thereof) of the remixes themselves. These various tracks, most mixed by relatively obscure Worden collaborators or MySpace friends, show a keen respect for the feel of the original songs. Though they don't always preserve the verse-chorus structure that defines most of Bring Me the Workhorse, most of the time the remixers succeed in crafting distinctive moods out of originals already so full of personality.

The first couple of tracks set a definite mood: skittering trip-hop. Full of space, Alias's reworking of "Golden Star" maintains the explosion (just when the word itself appears in the lyrics); but, actually, the original has more pathos, more power, more operatic drama. Lusine's "Workhorse" is more successful, turning the "Lost all your youth, and all your usefulness" into a swirling mantra, surrounding Worden's compelling voice with bells and swirling atmosphere.

But just when you think you have Tear It Down pegged as a passably appropriate, lush, down-tempo version of the original disc, things get kicked up a gear. The first of two "Freak Out" mixes emphasizes the title phrase, which becomes the tagline of the disc in an obvious kind of way. Likewise, Gold Chains Panique's mix is obvious electro, all siren synths and jittery bass. Cedar AV's "Disappear", which ends the disc, starts with a pretty music-box tinkle, cuts all the vocals into fragments, and adds a piston-like, Au Revoir Simone beat; but the devolution into wall-of-atmosphere is ill advised. In the end, these tracks are passable, but detract from the cohesion of the album as a whole, and should not be here.

You expect remixes to bring more, more, more -- more beats, more texture, more crescendo, and so on -- but in fact this remix disc gives us mostly less. On Stakka's remix of "Disappear", the verse-refrain order's been switched, the lush orchestral accompaniment becoming both freeform introduction and running theme. But apart from this, we are given something eerily similar to the original -- just a re-touch -- a different, equally valid, interpretation of the original musical idea. David Keith's remix of "Something of an End", though, substitutes all the swooning power for sheen, and we lose all its power and Bjork-esque majesty.

Tear It Down is a pretty, compelling series of tracks; the only question is, is it necessary? If you loved Bring Me the Workhorse, you will find something new in Tear It Down. But if you've never heard of Shara Worden or My Brightest Diamond, skip this one and head back to the debut -- its vision and drama are complete, and more cohesive than these thirteen tracks.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.