It’s occasionally slightly frustrating being a Bjork fan. You do things like spend a year running around chasing all of the ridiculously limited edition singles in multivariate CD, vinyl and DVD format off of her Volta, and then a year on she collects all the tracks together alongside a live album on her Voltaic set. Cue teethgrind. With this third remix collection Bastards, she’s done a similar thing with her recent Biophilia album, this difference being in this case being that not every remix from her recent 7 disc single series and the other ridiculously limited edition 12″s has made the final tracklisting this time. Having said that though, the majority of the best amounts make an appearance here, with Bjork enlisting a characteristically top-shelf and sonically diverse range of artists to rework Biophilia‘s tracks. It’s also a companion album that frequently packs more of a satisfyingly visceral punch than the often downbeat and wispy Biophilia.
Particularly impressive is the inspired incorporation of more forward-thinking dubstep influences, with Current Value’s fearsome reworking of ‘Solstice’ unleashing what sounds like a massive Martian deathray before descending into dark grinding bass synths and steel-plated snares as the industrial electronics build up around Bjork’s vocals like a robotic exoskeleton. At the other end of the sonic spectrum, Alva Noto reworks ‘Dark Matter’ into an eerie beatless crawl through phase-shifted vocal tones and ominous sub-bass pulses that easily offers up one of this collection’s most spectral and enveloping moments, before Death Grips turn ‘Sacrifice’ into a furious mash of stuttering rhythms, bright synths and beatboxed utterances, Bjork’s gliding vocal offering a serene counterbalance to the chaos going on beneath. Many of the most inspired pairings here come off as proper collaborations more than just remixes, with Omar Souleyman adding his own vocals amidst the whirling percussion and twisty Arabic synths for a virtual duet with Bjork on his inspired reworking of ‘Crystalline’. As a remix collection, Bastards is quality stuff, with several of the remixes here managing to edge out their original versions in the interest stakes.