Björk’s “Utopia” was a sweeping and beatific vision, a rapturous excursion into her own inner utopia, a sensuous world replete with glistening harps, brightly glowing pads and the occasional dolphin sample. Produced with the assistance of friend and collaborator Alessandro Ghersi (better known as Arca) it was undeniably a beautiful record, but never a conventional one: the application of Arca’s typically outré production style was a lens through which the harmonious exaltations of Björk’s music took on an unnatural tinge, a mutated oddness that in turn conjured a tension between the natural and the beautiful, and the synthetic and the strange.
Björk evidently has a knack for selecting collaborators that transmute her already experimental ideas into new and unexpected forms. For her latest remix EP, she’s invited three producers to reimagine Utopia’s first track, “Arisen My Senses” – Lanark Artefax, Jlin, and Kelly Lee Owens – that are all boldly inventive in their own right. The album cut itself provides ample material to work with: an abundance of celestial sonics, rarefied synth-work and of course, that seraphic voice, electrically charged with emotion and meaning. The three takes on “Arisen My Senses” utilise these source materials in vastly different ways, each taking their own unique stance on the original. It’s refreshing to hear a remix EP that doesn’t sound like several slightly different versions of the same song, a sin that the format is often guilty of.
Lanark Artefax layers Björk’s angelic vocal and harps mostly unaltered over typically abstract, highly carbonated synthesizers and contorted percussion that, though brilliant in it’s own right, is a little too close to Arca’s production style to provide something satisfyingly dissimilar to the original. Kelly Lee Owens ventures a little further, filtering the track through her own distinctive style of tenebrous, emotive techno and substituting the original’s heaven-lit serenity for something darker and more substantive. It’s Jlin’s rework, though, that steals the show, transmuting “Arisen My Senses” into a blinding piece of avant-footwork that makes you want to jump out of your chair. Jlin takes a risk that the others didn’t, discarding the majority of the source material and choosing instead to irreverently mangle Björk’s vocal part, repurposing it for her own ends rather than carefully building around it as the other two producers have. The risk pays off, and the vocal sounds incredible chopped-and-screwed atop her indefatigable rhythms, samples ricocheting around the speakers almost too fast to fully comprehend. Each of the remixes here works wonders in it’s own way, but Jlin’s is the one that rightly pays homage to Björk’s tirelessly inventive creative spirit.
Arisen My Senses (Remixes) is available now on streaming services.
Pre-order the vinyl here.