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.
“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.