Björk Bastards Review

Remix. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Bastards’ crew of contemporary producers turn in 13 commendably original remixes.

Mike Diver 2012

Given the multimedia angle of Björk’s Biophilia LP of 2011, where tracks were released as apps, this remix collection might appear to be rather old hat; something of a step backwards for an artist persistently at the vanguard of pop’s potential.

Yet Bastards furthers Björk’s extra-curricular output rather nicely, coming after similar collections rounding up remixes from her first two LPs. Those sets, 1994’s six-track The Best Mixes from the Album Debut… and 1996’s Telegram, saw the likes of LFO, Underworld and Sabres of Paradise reshape her singular works. The results were often riveting – and Bastards’ crew turns in a commendably original 13 tracks.

Immediately striking is Matthew Herbert’s Tectonic Plates mix of Mutual Core, which in its more combustive passages manages to out-shout the tremendous racket of the original cut. Herbert turns in two more mixes – his Pins and Needles rework of Sacrifice (reprise) is 30 seconds of absolute gorgeousness; and the closing Crystalline thumps and stomps with pleasingly squirmy bass and bizarre percussive details.

Another subtle yet certainly impressive remix is These New Puritans’ Mutual Core, featuring the lovely addition of the Solomon Island Song. These voices, from a place so very far from Björk’s native Iceland, nevertheless complement the singer’s higher-pitch vocals well; and gentle piano and brass lend the whole alluring warmth.

Death Grips’ confrontational reputation rather precedes their music – and their mixes comprise this set’s more hyperactive selections. Sacrifice borrows buzzing, grinding elements from the Californian punk-rap crew’s own track System Blower, from The Money Store. Thunderbolt, meanwhile, is rather more skittering, but always with the bass up to a neighbour-bothering level. Current Value’s Solstice is also barbarically eardrum-popping.

Syrian artist Omar Souleyman’s souk-side arcade beats are an acquired taste for sure; but, just like the Solomon Island singers, his presence expands the Biophilia palette into a truly international spread of colours, sounds and smells. His cuts are invocative of bustling markets, through which a pale figure moves liquid-like, her strange headdress rising from the crowd.

Which is one way of saying that, whoever the remixer, the presence of Björk remains dominant. She’s simply too strong a character for her identity to be overpowered, and she sings as strongly through the scenes here as she has done on any album "proper".

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