Oct 2021 15

Album CoverVarious Artists
Album: Tear Down the Walls – A Tribute to Pink Floyd’s The Wall
Category: Compilations
Label: Riveting Music
Release Date: 2020-12-18


This writer has never been one to hold any cow so sacred that it should be impervious to reinterpretation or recontextualization; such is the fluid nature of art that both artist and audience should be able to apply a variety of outlooks and meanings to any piece. As one of the great masterpieces of rock, Pink Floyd’s The Wall has hardly been untouchable as numerous songs have been given the cover treatment by a wide range of bands; even the album’s author Roger Waters has done so, taking what was a very personal work – with no small amount of social and political subtext – and revising it to suit different eras, from the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1990 to criticisms of the conservative administrations in the Western world in recent years.

With Tear Down the Walls, Riveting Music takes this to heart, assembling a veritable army of the underground industrial and alternative scene to virtually recreate the album, complete with a few extras for good measure. By definition, compilations are a mixed bag, and the quality of each track is bound to vary depending on the styles presented and the tastes of the listener; Tear Down the Walls is certainly no different. Although several songs from The Wall have stood out and attained a life of their own, the album was always essentially a complete work, and with Tear Down the Walls presented as a front-to-back rendition, it seems almost antithetical to ingest each track on its own merits… but the shifts in style, tone, atmosphere, etc. between each individual band’s interpretations, some faithful and some more exploratory, are so jarring that to not do so would result in having one’s meat with the pudding slathered on top – not the most appetizing combination.

The whole collection starts off in somewhat dicey fashion as FIRES and DJ N810 recreate “In the Flesh?” as an ethereal introduction that bears no resemblance to the blistering Teutonic fanfare of the original; FIRES’ iteration of the later companion track is more recognizable, and the transposition of certain lyrics to retain the inherent satirical bigotry of the original, replacing racism with transphobia, is a nice touch, although the heavy metal bombast feels a shade overwrought. Similarly, the instrumental to Dogtablet’s take on “Mother” bears greater similarity to Bush’s version of Joy Division’s “In a Lonely Place,” filled with brooding ambience and sparsely powerful drums, all the while Jared Louche at his most sneering and sinister; it’s striking, for sure, but the power of the original song was in the dichotomy of motherly love as a nurturing yet stifling and potentially harmful force. This contrast is replaced by such vicious fervor that despite the power of Louche’s performance, it is rendered impotent. The same can be said of the searing industrial/rock of Dead Animal Assembly Plant, which somehow just doesn’t seem to do justice to the sardonically fascistic pomp of “Waiting For the Worms,” while Colony of None’s “Hey You” commits the mortal sin of drastically altering one of the The Wall’s most potent chapters beyond recognition, making both Sigint’s and Fiction 8’s versions all the more satisfying. Other tracks take some intriguing chances in extending interludes beyond their initial ranges, such as in how Damsel in the Dollhouse transforms “Stop” into a nearly four-minute lullaby vs. the 30 seconds of the original, or in how Latex performs “Outside the Wall” as a leaden march more befitting “In the Flesh” or “Waiting For the Worms.”

Even some of the more straightforward tracks fall somewhat short, if only by virtue of not quite achieving that special level of brilliance to make them stand out. In the case of “The Thin Ice,” Hate Dept. does well to stick to the song’s saccharine ambience, although this writer feels this cover would’ve been more appropriate under Steven Seibold’s Standalone moniker rather than Hate Dept. given its particularly bouncy electronic vibrance. File Transfer Protocol and Aimonia do well enough with the three parts of “Another Brick in the Wall,” although the presence of samples of the previous U.S. president taking about the wall he’d intended to build does leave a rather bitter and somewhat forced taste of political venom. Fractured Machines’ “Run Like Hell,” Nuclear*Sun with “Young Lust,” and Timebitch with “The Trial” are also generally fine, and the cold and steely vacancy of “Is There Anybody Out There?” is given quite the ominous mechanical touch by Flood Damage, the bass and pianos performing the iconic arpeggio sequence nicely.

On the other hand, The Joy Thieves provide what are some of the best tracks on Tear Down the Walls, with Raymond Watts’ throaty baritone providing the appropriate slither to “Empty Spaces,” while Chris Connelly’s radiant and harmonious performance of “One of My Turns” is simply a delight; however, it is in I Ya Toyah’s presence on “Don’t Leave Me Now,” reversing the lyrics to be from the opposite perspective of the scorned and scornful wife, that the cover attains its maximum effectiveness. The same can be said of Fiction 8 with “Nobody Home,” “Bring the Boys Back Home,” and especially the bonus of “When the Tigers Broke Free,” all of which are quite beautiful, while both Die Robot’s and Out Out’s takes on “Comfortably Numb” are largely executed with reverence to the original without sacrificing the respective bands’ own styles.

Art impacts everybody differently, and it would be a mistake to presume that others’ reaction to Pink Floyd’s The Wall would match one’s own; the last year saw the internet personality Nostalgia Critic quite literally tearing the album down with what has largely been accepted to be a petty and deliberately baneful interpretation of The Wall franchise (historic stage show and cult film classic included). Riveting Music’s Tear Down the Walls is by contrast a clearly affectionate and respectful approach to an album that has transcended the boundaries of genre and era, and while the presentation of its core concept is undermined by the inconsistency from one band’s sound to another, one can’t fault any of the participants for simply wishing to pay tribute. Like with any compilation, there are going to be those tracks that simply don’t connect with each listener, for as they’ve given their all, some simply will stagger and fall… after all, it’s not easy to bang one’s head or place one’s own bricks in some other mad bugger’s wall. But once the ire subsides, Tear Down the Walls does harbor some impressive gems if you’re willing to listen.
Track list:

  1. DJ N810 / FIRES – Intro / In the Flesh?
  2. Hate Dept. – The Thin Ice
  3. File Transfer Protocol (feat. M. Zrubek) – Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1
  4. Machines with Human Skin – The Happiest Days of Our Lives
  5. File Transfer Protocol (feat. M. Zrubek) – Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
  6. Dogtablet – Mother
  7. 07. ContainHer + Steven OLaf – Goodbye Blue Sky
  8. The Joy Thieves (feat. Raymond Watts) – Empty Spaces
  9. Nuclear*Sun – Young Lust
  10. The Joy Thieves (feat. Chris Connelly) – One of My Turns
  11. The Joy Thieves (feat. I Ya Toyah) – Don’t Leave Me Now
  12. Aimonia – Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3
  13. Cyanotic vs. Project .44 – Goodbye Cruel World
  14. Colony of None – Hey You
  15. Flood Damage – Is There Anybody Out There?
  16. Fiction 8 – Nobody Home
  17. Ego Likeness – Vera
  18. Fiction 8 – Bring the Boys Back Home
  19. Die Robot – Comfortably Numb
  20. TR8 – The Show Must Go On
  21. FIRES – In the Flesh
  22. Fractured Machines – Run Like Hell
  23. Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Waiting For the Worms
  24. Damsel in the Dollhouse – Stop
  25. Timebitch – The Trial
  26. Latex – Outside the Wall
  27. Fiction 8 – When the Tigers Broke Free
  28. W.O.R.M. – What Shall We Do Now?
  29. Fiction 8 – Goodbye Cruel World
  30. Sigint – Hey You
  31. Out Out – Comfortably Numb
  32. Iron Lung Corp. – Run Like Hell [2020 Remix]
  33. File Transfer Protocol – Outside the Wall
  34. Affect Effect (feat. Alizeh Winter) – Empty Spaces
  35. Kat^2 – Goodbye Cruel World
  36. Fiction 8 – Hey You
  37. Latex – Outside the Wall [First Mix]

Riveting Music
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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