After an extended hiatus, I’m happy to announce that my Sarah Brightman discography series has returned. We’re in the home stretch and most of the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff is in the rearview mirror. Also, Brightman’s newest album is in my possession so there will be a review of that to cap off To the Stars. Be excited.
Getting things back in gear is the Harem (Cançao Do Mar) Remixes record, a set of four remixes from, um, Harem. There is a European version that features seven tracks and a couple of 12-inch versions out there with varying track listings. This review is for the US release from Angel Music.
This is pretty on par with most of the other Brightman remix albums out there and it seems to feed on producer Frank Peterson’s love of tinkering with the more rhythmic portions of the soprano’s vocals.
The “Hex Hector Vocal Mix” kicks off the record with about 10 or so minutes of dance-oriented club stuff. It uses the string loop from the song “Harem” and shapes Brightman’s vocal acrobatics from the piece with a pretty standard backing beat. Hector, the Grammy-winning remixer, does well to play with the dynamics and switches the tempo up quite a bit.
The “Robbie Rivera Vocal Mix” also builds on a beat, unsurprisingly. The Puerto Rican house music producer has about as many EPs as he has aliases, but he seems almost grounded here with the simple but hazy start to the track. Once more, the string loop from “Harem” plays a big part.
The third track, the “Manny Lehman Vocal Mix,” comes in at 11 minutes and uses percussion and a thumping bass line as its foundation. It’s a lively piece and very club-oriented, which is the point. Standard synth pulses blow in and out of the mix, while Middle Eastern vocals flood through.
Finally, the Groove Brothers pop by to remix “It’s a Beautiful Day” in a “bonus track.” The pulsing effects used by these obscure remixers don’t do Brightman’s voice any favours, making her sound like a wavering, warbling bird. The backing cut is as average as possible and it’s really the worst remix on the disc.
Unless you’re a fan of remixes or a Brightman completist, there’s no real reason to pick this up. It kind of distils the energy of the songs and transforms them into repetitive club mixes, taking the music out of the desert and into the neon glow.