Bjork, bastards

Ryan Reed

By Ryan Reed

on 11.16.12 in Reviews

It’s not as if Björk, Iceland’s avant-pop electro-princess, really needed to put out a remix album. Biophillia, her eighth studio LP, is remembered more as a multimedia experiment than a collection of songs – with accompanying video games, art installations, iPhone apps and live shows that featured a freaking tesla coil. Considering this, bastards may seem like a frivolous concept on paper, but it’s the rare remix album that actually improves upon the original, adding exotic eclecticism and percussive flair to Biophilia‘s frigid, monotonous soundscapes.

Death Grips, These New Puritans and more bring out the fun in Biophilia

“Sacrifice” was once a droning, ambient dead-end – in Death Grips’ hands, it’s borderline danceable, punched up by in-the-red beats and a demented bassline; the creepy, crawling 16-Bit version of “Hollow” sounds like Radiohead vacationing at Bowser’s Castle. But bastards is an improvement not only due to its bountiful beats, but also its diversity: These New Puritans layer Björk’s anguished cries over dubby sub-bass, stark piano chords, and Middle Eastern chants. The collection’s most arresting moment is also its simplest: “Moon” is transformed into a haunting electro-lullaby, augmenting a single-string harp flutter with breezy electronics somewhere between The Books and The Postal Service. Biophilia‘s astral art-rock beauty commanded respect, but the more down-to-earth bastards adds a missing ingredient: fun.