After the release of Bjork’s 2011 album Biophilia there came a slew of intriguing remixes from artists as varying as Alva Noto and These New Puritans. What was once a scatter of reworks released in eight separate parts has been bundled together into Bjork’s 13 choice cuts, a handy compilation for “people who are perhaps not too sassy downloaders or don’t have the time or energy to partake in the hunter-gathering rituals of the internet” according to the Icelandic luminary.
Despite the fact that many of the tracks double over on Bastards, it’s organized in such a way that it still flows fluently. Four of the songs are featured twice on the album, some of which are even placed side by side, but so diverse are the remixes that it scarcely matters. Highlights come from Death Grips who submit tracks ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Sacrifice’ to a conveyor belt of reconstruction – calling to mind a disused robot being hastily assembled with random parts from the shop floor. The end result is a huge clunking machine that somehow works better than the polished ones. 16-bit also manage to stick out with a harrowing subsonic remix of ‘Hollow’ that conjures some dark glitchy flutters for it’s backdrop, reminding you just how slick the London duo can be. Bastards’ true crowning note, however, comes from Matthew Herbert, who’s version of ‘Crystalline’ soars above the rest with a veritable bubbling soup of blips and bops. Even with the original’s deliciously abrasive Amen break being jettisoned, this track still dominates in an album that’s littered with formidable reworks.
When dabbling in diversity such as Bastards does there’s inevitably going to be some pitfalls. These come in the form of Omar Souleyman who offers an untoward middle-eastern take on tracks ‘Crystalline’ and ‘Thunderbolt’. They leave a noticeable stain on an otherwise colorful re-stitch of Bjork’s recent blanket. Arabian lunacy aside, this album is definitely weighty enough to stand up straight without leaning on the original. While some remix albums only serve as a reminder to reel back towards the source material, Bastards plays more like a director’s cut and ultimately shows the versatility of Bjork’s voice as it plays host to a number of different styles without ever sounding out of place.