By: Calum Slingerland –
Last year, the world saw Björk release her critically acclaimed Biophilia, an extremely experimental and unique record that was released alongside a bevy of extra content. Interactive apps were created to enhance the listening experience and the album’s concept. The delivery of extra goodies doesn’t stop there, as a collection of Biophilia remixes have been released. Titled Bastards, the album contains 13 reinterpretations of album tracks hand-picked by Björk herself. The result is a largely impressive and eclectic collection of songs from Björk’s handful of remixed artists.
The first name encountered upon listening is notable world musician Omar Souleyman who presents a version of “Crystalline” that isn’t shy to put its Arabic music influences on display. The combination of traditional Arabic instruments and electronic flair paired with Björk’s vocals is truly a treat to the ears. Souleyman has the distinction of being featured twice on the record contributing a very expansive mix of the song “Thunderbolt”, which bears incredibly little to no resemblance to Björk’s original song. Chock full of synthesizers, more traditional instruments and lightning-fast Arabic scales, this is a track not to be missed.
Making two appearances on the record is notorious Sacremento avant-garde hip-hop outfit Death Grips who combinine their edgy, grinding musical style with Björk’s gentle, spacy pop sensibilities. Chopped and screwed beat samples from Death Grips drummer Zack Hill make up the majority of the trio’s interpretation of “Sacrifice”, interspersed with bass drops and bells to ring out the song’s melody. Their own version of “Thunderbolt” features a minimal beat, opting to instead host a hypnotic, menacing bass line. The simple synth stabs in the chorus section do a wonderful job of highlighting Björk’s vocal harmonies.
More notable tracks within the album include drum and bass producer Current Value’s full-on assault on the senses with his remix of “Solstice”. Taking an approach that courageously captures the essence of the North American dubstep craze, the once timid “Solstice” becomes its own antithesis, with an absolutely electric, blaring rendition taking control. Spanish musician El Guincho offers up a poppy, minimal electronic remix of “Cosmogony”, while Matthew Herbert’s version of “Mutual Core” absolutely shines with its volatile, unpredictable rising and falling nature.
At the record’s end, Bastards is a wonderful testament to the creativity of each individual artist involved with the project, as well as Björk’s intuition with regards to her selection of artists and their works. It’s not a collection that casual fans will find endearing, but it caters more than enough to those fascinated by Biophilia and Björk’s innovative disography.
Essential tracks: Sacrifice (Death Grips remix), Thunderbolt (Omar Souleyman remix) and Solstice (Current Value remix).