I’ve been a fan of Björk for over 15 years and I’ve generally loved everything she’s done. I could have done without Telegraph, the peculiar “Björk covers Björk” remix collection released after her first two albums, and Medulla — her 99% acapella album — left a lot to be desired, but those were only minor blemishes on a nearly flawless career. Until Biophilia came along. I liked a couple of the tracks, namely “Crystalline” and “Cosmogony,” but I found the rest of it to be a bit too minimalist. It was awkward enough listening to Björk try to teach us about science, but the fact that so many of the songs were without any catchy hooks made it a frustrating listen. Fortunately, the remixes proved to be far superior to the album versions of the songs, which is why I was delighted upon hearing the news that she was releasing a compilation of those remixes called Bastards.
While they’re quite diverse, the remixes on Bastards actually play better as an album than Biophilia did. I’m not sure I would have opened Bastards with Syrian musician Omar Souleyman’s dabke-style (Arabian) remix of “Crystalline,” since the track plays more like a duel between Souleyman and Björk than an actual remix, but it’s certainly an inspired and inventive take on the song and I’m glad that it was included. Likewise, I was pleased by the inclusion of Souleyman’s dabke take on “Thunderbolt.” (If Björk would have had Souleyman remix the entire album, I would have happily bought it.) As for the remixes by other artists, one of my favorites is longtime Björk collaborator Matthew Herbert’s Teutonic Plates Mix of “Mutual Core,” which very much calls to mind Homogenic-era Björk, Homogenic being my favorite Björk album. (Herbert also contributes a delightful remix of “Crystalline.”) Another standout is Hudson Mohawke’s dubstep-lite Peaches & Guacamol Remix of “Virus.” And Death Grips do a fine job re-imagining “Thunderbolt” and “Sacrifice,” their mixes being meatier and jucier than the original versions. Ultimately, the only remix I was disappointed by was These New Puritans’ minimalist remix of “Mutual Core” featuring Solomon Is Song. And that’s only because I’m a fan of These New Puritans and know that they could have done much better. -Michael McCarthy
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