Album Review Bjork - Bastards

Over the course of the very long album, some of the remixes do fall rather flat.

‘Bastards’ is the fourth official remix album authorised and realised by Icelandic sonic auteur Bjork. The remix album is in interesting concept for such an artist. Her work is ideally suited to the mechanics of remixing and reworking yet, conversely, how can anyone possibly come up with anything that surpasses her own singularly brilliant and inventive style? ‘Bastards’ makes a fair fist of trying to take the music of Bjork’s 2011 album ‘Biophillia’ to even more far off and musically adventurous places.

The 13 remix’ were collated by Bjork herself in order to give the album a defining theme in keeping with ‘Biophillia’ and simply, in her own words, “to give the songs legs to dance on”. This is dance music from an altogether mixed up and at times brilliant place though.

Three of the remixes come from American producer and artist Matthew Herbert and his work is among the best here. His rework of ’Mutual Core’ is wonderfully expansive - the track is incredibly stirring and rousing, washes of sounds and beats making a mightily impressive noise. His closing take on ‘Crystalline’ is no less effective. Here, the beats are jerky and off-kilter, Bjork’s voice queasily riding the choppy waters of Herbert’s musical backdrop.

The two contributions by Death Grips are the most abrasive and impenetrable tracks here, being more in keeping with the Californian group’s incendiary style: the bass is bone shakingly loud on ’Sacrifice’ and ’Thunderbolt’ is equally harsh and unrelenting. As powerful as these two tracks are they are the only moments on the album where Bjork herself is in danger of being completely subsumed by the music.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of ’Bastards’ is Bjork opening up and allowing her music to be taken to previously unchartered territory. There is something utterly beguiling and joyous about Syrian musician Omar Souleyman’s takes on ’Crystalline’ and ’Thunderbolt’ - tribal and Middle Eastern musical influences and sounds abound giving the music a real colourful flavour. These are the sounds of two different musical cultures clashing allowing a new style to flourish. These New Puritans take this even further on their version of ‘Mutual Core’, which features sampled vocals from native Solomon Island songs, originally collected by David Fanshawe.

Over the course of the very long album, some of the remixes do fall rather flat. When the music is highly experimental and individual in its own right some of the reworks pale in comparison. There are a number of genuinely interesting pieces here that make this a very worthwhile addition to Bjork’s discography.


Tags: Björk, Album Reviews, Reviews

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