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
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.