Of everything on my ipod, one of the only artists I can consistently call one of my favorites is Bjork. I love everything about Bjork. For almost 7 months I listened to Debut, Mount Wittenberg Orca, and Vespertine more or less exclusively. After finally deciding I was tired of those three albums, I picked a fourth at random, Bastards, and ended up falling down a musical rabbit hole into a world I never knew existed.
Bastards is an album entirely composed of Bjork remixes done by an extremely eclectic crowd. With production work done by everyone from EDM-turned-nintendo composers 16bit, to Scottish DJ Hudson Mohawke, to a one-year-old Deathgrips. The album is eerie in the most active way, with Bjork’s strange voice captivating melodies appearing to almost bring out the weirdness in the other artists. Hollow (16bit’s remix) is not only spooky, with synth sounds that sound so plain and weird at the same time that they almost make you feel uncomfortable and textures that thicken and thin rapidly without warning, it also somehow exists in both the trap and hip hop worlds without really being either one. Both Deathgrips tracks have very angular and aggressive themes, with a psuedo-industrial vibe caused by its soundset and reverb-bath, adding to the general aura of fear surrounding the album. But this is just the tip of the remix ice-bjerg. Upon minimal research I discovered that this is her THIRD remix album. Bjork has two other albums (and one EP), filled with nothing but remixes done by an equally acclaimed crowd. But this is only the beginning of the remix universe.
Unofficial remixes have been done by everyone from Simian Mobile Disco to the recent collab with Flying Lotus. If you put “Bjork Remix” into Soundcloud, you get more than 500 results. Producers like Atapy, Dimitri from Paris, and Bad Box all have at least one Bjork remix on their page.
This only begs the question, why is everyone remixing Bjork? Everyone from Sly and the Family Stone, to John Coltrane, to Justin Bieber has remix albums out, but the fact that Bjork has four remix records–while she is still an active artist–is insane. One theory is that musicians generally like and respect her. Thom Yorke of Radiohead once described “Unravel” as his favorite song of all time. Even if you don’t like her artsy aesthetic or think she is fake and selling out, you can’t argue with her success, tenacity, and creativity. She has yet to release an album that didn’t go UK Silver. She has 30 top ten singles. She won best actress in the Cannes Film Festival. She has been nominated for 14 Grammys (16 if you count the times she was nominated for art direction on other people’s albums) and one Oscar. She released an album as an educational experiment with an accompanying app, and dreamed “it would be a museum or something.” She raised money to pay for the legal fees of Pussy Riot when they were imprisoned in Russia. When Scotland was voting on whether to leave the UK earlier this year, she made song supporting Scottish independence. When it comes down to it, she’s an artist with a lot of visions and is continuing to make a big splash in both the art and music worlds, and in a way remixing her is just one way of paying respect to an amazing artist with an amazing career.