That Bjork, she be crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy. So we're always told, anyway, but really she's just pushing herself. Biophilia was a bewildering project but once you stripped away all the faff, what lay in your hands was a stunning album full of beauty, beats and blissful wonder.
With her remix series, Bjork released a bunch of mixes by artists she wanted to work with as an extension to the Biophilia project (16 bit, Omar Souleyman, Matthew Herbert, Hudson Mohawk and Death Grips are some of those featured here). The cream of which is collected in Bastards.
Now, as with most remix albums, you're not going to be picking this up unless you really like Bjork. And as you already know Bjork, you'll know that she likes to challenge you. Here she starts with a drastic Omar Souleyman remix, which while undeniably brilliant, just isn't to my tastes. There's just a bit too much Omar Souleyman and not enough Bjork left.
Biophilia was a revelation; it had some astonishing moments and thankfully some of those remain on Bastards. The vocal in Virus is still a spine-tingler. Hudson Mohawk brings more texture to the track, wrapping that vocal in bold bass drum and turning the childlike chimes into a rich lake to bathe in. Mmm, it's lovely. These are some top remixes.
The Death Grips remix of Sacrifice is urgent and booming while Matthew Herbert chips in with a light edit, pitched here as an echo of the Death Grips piece. Sublime. Herbert reappears with the absolutely huge mix of Mutual Core. It's tight and taut, when it rips it really tears apart and is exploding-star-massive. The track was already pretty big when the drums came in but now they boom, ripping the speakers apart. It is bloody glorious.
I think this album (and Biophilia) is at it's best when mixing Bjork's light floating vocals with vicious beats and discordance. Maybe that's just because my head's in that place just now but it works brilliantly here and this set of mixes keeps Bjork at the frontier. The Current Value remix of Solstice being a case in point. It's nasty and unrelenting, yet fits.
Lastly, we finish with another Matthew Herbert remix. A busy, frenetic mix of Crystalline. It draws to a close an album which, like many remix records, has a few ups and downs. There are some seriously good mixes here and it helps keep Bjork's reputation as one of our most cherished artists, working with those on the edge of the mainstream. There are very few musicians out there who can pull off the kind of projects Bjork has with Biophilia, and when you view this snapshot among the wider context of the project, you realise just how amazing it is. I wonder what she'll do next.
Bastards is out on November 19th through One Little Indian