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REVIEW: Bjork, Telegram (Elektra)

-Eric Hsu

A few years ago this would have been called “a bunch of remixes.” But now remixing for the dance floor has become recognized enough as an art that Elektra can hype this as “radical reinterpretations” of songs from Bjork’s last album Post (get it? Telegram… Post). That’s a pretty fair description: basically, the record is a bunch of covers of Post songs for which Bjork was kind enough to show up and sing vocals.

Some of the more extreme remakes include the Brodsky Quartet who do a chamber music version of the lovely “Hyperballad”, and Outcast who do a grindingly techno version of “Enjoy”. Dobie has thrown in a reggae dub into the middle of a loping “I Miss You”.

Evelyn Glennie and Bjork have collaborated on a charming percussive new song called “My Spine”, which is mostly charming for the novelty of the percussion (exhaust pipes) and Bjork’s spontaneous enthusiasm. Among the other remixers are Mark Bell from LFO, Eumir Deodato, Graham Massey, Dillinja, and Finnish techno band Metri. Dillinja revs up “Cover Me” with a big drum and bass sound that takes the original hanuting piano line and makes it really catchy.

In the end I find the remixes interesting, but uniformly inferior to the original mixes. When I listen to the artistic choices made on this record, it gives me a renewed appreciation for the skill and tastefulness exercised on the magnificant Post. Bjork comments, “Post has a lot of different emotional angles on it… I flirt with this idea, but on Telegram I gave myself liberties to go all the way with that.” And it’s true. I think these remixes are best heard as remixes and not as an intro to either Bjork or these songs. In stretching for emotional extremes the songs on Telegram often become one-dimensional. Listening to this record made me go back and listen to Post.

My recommendation: listen to Post. If you think it’s awesome and/or like any of the remix artists mentioned above, listen to Telegram in a store. But psychologically, treat this as an album of B-sides.