Bjork – bastards album review

If the songs off of Bjork’s latest release, bastards, it would be because that this album is comprised of remixed versions of songs found on her 2011 release, Biophilia. Not only that, all the remixes found here were also previously released on either The Crystalline Series or the Biophilia Remix Series. What Bjork has done with bastards is release a collection of songs that form a strong atmosphere when put together.

Bjork has long been known for an unconventional approach to music and her willingness to step beyond the norms and bastards is no different. Her songs, though, are not necessarily easily accessible to the casual music listener and the remixes add yet another other-worldly element to the songs. That being said, when the album is looked at as a whole, there is something that is powerful at work.

By the time I was midway through the second track, Virus (Hudson Mohawke Peaches and Guacamol Remix), I had to stop what I was doing and give my full attention to what was happening in my ears. Dark Synths, slow tempo with a drum machine, and through it all, Bjork’s voice sounding as if she was having a one sided conversation with me. It provided a strange but effective contrast to the almost formless remix by Omar Souleyman of the opening track, Crystalline.

This continuous movement of order and chaos through the tracks is what brings it all together. There is a sense of an emotional journey throughout, bastards, and it is pretty potent if you let yourself get immersed in it. For me, the journey hit its climactic moment when I hit the song Mutual Core, remixed by These New Puritans. Bjork’s voice is front and centre here, singing out loudly and earnestly at times while supported by a strange chorus of chanting voices in a language I could not identify. The minimalist approach to the musical accompaniment here was powerful and chilling.

I appreciate what was done here, the remixes are extremely well executed and Bjork has chosen wisely amongst them to fill out the track list for bastards. When put together this album is an intense listening experience. It is not for the casual music listener, however. If you are looking for something to just round out your daily playlist I suggest you might want to keep searching.

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