Review Summary: The Anti-Remix Album
In 1995 Bjork blew the lid off the pop music scene with her album Post. An album that began as a solid sophomore release from the eccentric singer has evolved to legendary status as one of the greatest pop albums of all time. While looking back now, selecting Bjork’s “best” album of her current seven could be argued for hours, but at the time Post was her crowning achievement. Blending styles of alternative rock, trip hop, electronic, pop and even jazz, one of the most interesting albums of the 90’s was born.
Often brushed under the rug though is Post’s sister album, Telegram. In Bjork’s words, “Telegram is really Post as well but all the elements of the songs are just exaggerated. It's like the core of Post. That's why it's funny to call it a remix album, it's like the opposite.” And while the album is a collection of Post remixes and one B-side, it certainly doesn’t play like a remix album, featuring as much diversity as the original work. The issue is though when you exaggerate specific elements of a song, a lot of the more subtle moments get drowned out or completely extinguished. The remix of Enjoy suffers from this greatly. The remix is a total onslaught of brutal synth clashes and bass drum leaving but little room for vocals or much of anything else. While an interesting listen at first, it grows very tiresome after repeated listens.
Some tracks do in fact benefit greatly from this exaggerated remix style though. Specifically the first remix of I Miss You that is presented strips back the album version’s lush instrumentation and turns the song in to a mellow beat that fully embodies the state of the 90’s trip hop scene at the time. The track even features a brief rap by an uncredited vocalist. This song represents what the rest of Telegram should have been: it does not detract nor add to the original version of the song, but instead creates a new dimension to the track. The same could be said for the Hyperballad mix as well, featuring nothing but Bjork’s fantastic vocals and an orchestral accompaniment by the Brodsky Quartet, crafting a beautiful new take on an already incredible song.
For every good track though, there is an inferior one as well. The album opener, a Possibly Maybe remix is actually not far short of terrible, featuring vocals edited to the point of sheer annoyance. Then the Headphones remix, a song that is already the weakest on the mother album Post, consists of six minutes of near silence, containing just one line of vocals turned to minimal volume, hidden underneath just the slightest quiver of drone taking up the rest of the song.
The album’s real crown jewel though is the B-side, My Spine featuring the percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The song was originally intended to be on Post but got cut in favor of Enjoy. My Spine is a fabulous stripped back song consisting solely of Glennie’s fabulous percussion on lush bells and Bjork’s fabulous vocals singing beautifully written lyrics and showcasing her now classic growl.
When it comes down to it, Telegram is a fine collection, truly playing like a solid body of work rather than a menagerie of remixes strung together. To pass of Telegram as an equal to Post though is simply silly. While the album certainly is worth a listen it will serve as nothing but a support beam to the true crowing achievement that is Post.