Bjork Sends A Message To Those Who Confuse "Remix" With "Dance Remix"

When Bjork recently appeared on MTV's "120 Minutes" to discuss

Telegram, an album of remixes of songs from 1995's Post, she

spoke about what it was like to collaborate with another person and come

up with a new song, "where one plus one equals three." Every song has a

multitude of personalities, and the original version may communicate only

a few of those. Remixes, she says, are a chance to allow another artist to

reveal new aspects to one's music.

Telegram offers the interpretations of nine songs from Post

by nine different remix artists, plus a new track and the original version

of "I Miss You." Some are completely reworked, almost unrecognizeable;

others are highlighted and transformed in more subtle ways. Although

strictly speaking Telegram is not a new album for Bjork, fans

hungry for new music may be satisfied by what this missive has to offer.

The disc opens with "Possibly Maybe (Lucy Mix)," reworked by Mark Bell.

While the original was softly pulsed and delicate, now a loping beat

shuffles through the song as Bjork's vocal, heavy processed and distorted,

comes across as pained and angry. The verses have been switched; this time

the first lines are "Since we broke up I'm using lipstick again/I suck my

tongue as a remembrance of you."

Bjork reminds us, too, that remix doesn't always mean dance

remix. "Hyperballad" is even more tender and whimsical, this time

backed by the Brodsky Quartet. The lyric is highlighted by soaring violin

squeals as she sings, "I'm back at my cliff, still throwing things off/I

listen to the sounds they make on their way down." Though the woodsy

"Isobel," remixed by Eumir Deodato, keeps its original string arrangement,

a samba rhythm changes its setting from, say, Germany's Thuringian Forest

to a Brazillian rain forest.

"Enjoy (Further Over the Edge Mix)" and "Army of Me," retooled by Outcast

and Graham Massey respectively, are both edgy enough on Post. This

time around they get the full industrial treatment. In the former, Bjork's

vocal of the word "enjoy" functions as a rhytmic accent to the

Nine-Inch-Nails-inspired static bursts and sneaky underbeat. "Army" opens

with an air-raid sound -- actually, it's one of Bjork's wails which has

been heavily synthed. Its arrangement is more spacious than the original,

but just as sinister. Both have had their lyrics leached away, leaving

only the barest essences.

Like "Isobel," the simple addition of a drum track change the

personalities of other tracks. "I Miss You (Dobie Dub Part One Sunshine

Mix)" is backed by a warm, LA-style hip-hop beat and features a rap by

Robbie P of London Posse. The harp-inflected "Cover Me," reworked by

Dillinja, takes a completely different direction with its soft-metallic

rhythm shot through with muffled explosions, string runs and English-style

ambient drums.

In "You've Been Flirting Again (Flirt Is A Promise Mix)," remixed by Bjork

herself, sounds like a transmission from outer space, with the vocal

echoing through waves of electronic beeps and wind-sounds. But at the

second verse, strings swell in, adding a new immediacy to the song.

"You're all I ever wanted," she repeats at the song's close.

"Headphones" -- originally written by Bjork and ex-boyfriend Tricky about

falling asleep to one another's music -- is stripped apart by Mika Vainio,

now barely a pulse accented by occasional piano notes and sampled

didgeridoo. The lyric is stripped and shifted, entering halfway through

the track and skipping straight from "They start off cells that haven't

been touched before" to "Nothing will be the same/I like this resonance."

The change hints at the split between these two former lovers, once

intimate, now reverberating in one another's music without crossing paths.

The single new track, "My Spine," is a simple ode to the nice bits of

men's anatomies. Evelyn Glennie plays along on exhaust pipes that sound

like something from the Akira soundtrack. "Oh those boys with

fascinating fingers/Working creative, touching their tools," she sings

coyly, "Gives me always a pretty rush down my spine."

As Bjork's catalog of music continues to grow, she proves herself capable

of synthesizing so many fresh, exciting genres -- from pop and rock to

industrial, ambient, dance and hip-hop influences, nurturing it all with

her sumptuous voice, lyrics and arrangements. The works on Telegram

are indeed new songs, distant cousins to those on Post; at the same

time, Bjork demonstrates that a remix doesn't have to take the life away

from an artist's original vision.