Bjork – “Bastards” Review

bjorkBjork’s latest CD release is a remix compilation from the Biophilia album – an album I loved and reviewed earlier in the year. The album’s style varies greatly and as with a lot of remix albums, it really depends if you like certain music styles or not. What I will say is much like Telegraph, Bastards is a genre hopping span of all kinds of sounds and is all the better for it.

Opening with “Cystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)” which was taken from the single, we have a complete transformation of the track into an electronica Raj of sorts with all kinds of synthetic instruments mimicking traditional eastern instruments that flex and bend like only the Eastern know how. It’s an absolute tour de force. Omar appears twice, later on with his version of “Thunderbolt” which transforms things again with some magical electric Sitar work. Equally as stunning is “Virus (Hudson Mohawke “Peaches and Guacamol Rework)” which takes the human edge away from the instrumentation and turns it into a wonderfully spacious symphony. The main melody is played up in blips and the chorus vocal sections have an epic brass reworking that explode and make things really feel massive and grandiose.

Elsehwere “Sacrifice” gets two remixes. Firstly into a break beat version by Death Grips which actually works a lot better than I first thought because the whole song is viciously percussive and pulsating. The second is a twenty odd second cut from Matthew Herbert called the Pins and Needles Mix Edit – a clue of what may come in the future. Matthew Herbert also closes the album with the second version of “Crystalline” too which is suitably bouncy and a real odd ball dance floor sleeper hit in the making. It’s like the whole songs being blown into bubbles.

“Mutual Core” gets two remixes. Firstly with the magnificent “These New Puritans Remix” which brings in some additional Bulgarian sounding singers which add an archaic flavour. The song also really strips things right back to a wonderful juxtaposition of Bjork singing the main theme over a chillout piano/drum loop. It works sublimely even if I don’t always feel the vocals start at the right point in the songs time signature. Matthew Herbert returns for a third remix and his “Mutual Core” version sadly is too close to the original and sounds too muffled to be as enjoyable.

The albums rounded out with “Hollow 16 bit Remix” which is abstract beyond the original and didn’t grab my attention, “Thunderbolt” by Death Grips which is like an absolute freak out on a panning and frequency paddle and I veer from extreme love to exasperation depending on my mood, “Dark Matter (Alva Noto Remodel)” which is all about stretching the backing vocals over an ambient sound scape, “Solstice (Current Value Remix)” which brings in the dub-step and works very well indeed once it gets going and the beautiful “Moon (The Slips Remix)” which loops the harp samples with offset keyboard plinks and ups the drums for a merry ride around the field.

I’m enjoying “Bastards” and its a good remix album. There’s a heavy reliance on a couple of remixers and songs and its a shame no one tried Nattura or Cosmogony, which has become my favourite from the album but for what it is – its a wonderfully bizarre mash up. That’ll be typical Bjork then!

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Categories: 16-bit, alternative, ambient, Dubstep, electronica, music, remix, review, singer songwriter

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