TORONTO (CP)—Music is like sex, says eccentric Icelandic pop pixie Björk—at its finest when it’s a collaborative effort.
“Why have sex alone when you can do it with someone else ?” Björk says in response to a question about her third solo album, Telegram, as her elfin face breaks into a mischievous grin.
The new album, which Björk was promoting in Toronto recently, features remixes of nine tracks from her 1995 CD Post and the new song “My Spine”.
She collaborates on Telegram with British techno artists like Outcast, Dobie and Dillinja along with a colorful range of world musicians and composers.
The 31-year-old fashion trailblazer looked decidedly sedate for this interview, wearing a geometric navy wool pant suit. The only evidence of rock star frivolity was her hair, with black tufts jutting crazily from her scalp.
Björk’s music is a melange as unique as her hair, marrying otherworldly electronic chords and noises, obscure instruments and strong, kaleidoscopic percussion.
Her formidable voice routinely transforms from little girl whisper to lion’s roar, including an assortment of shrieks, grunts and ecstatic exclamations.
Björk’s role on Telegram was akin to a master chef who picked the basic ingredients for the recipe and then allowed someone else to add the spices and concoct the entree.
But she disputes the popular criticism that remixes—often associated with overlong dance mixes and repetitive, lifeless drumbeats—are always derivative or inferior to the original songs.
“It’s really exciting if you think a friend will take your song another way,” she says.
“Remixing is not this new thing. There’s always been this tradition about doing many versions of one song, just like there’s many sides to one story.
“I’ve always had this soft spot for scientists. I wanted to be a sort of musical scientist.”
Björk calls herself “a bit of a fascist” when it comes to music.
“Not to be cruel, but I don’t see the point in BritPop. I mean, it’s kind of been done, you know ? Either improve it or do something that hasn’t been done before.”
The ornate remixes on Telegram bear out Björk’s theory that cross-pollination can lend a new, often completely different character to the original piece.
The futuristic-sounding treatment of “Hyperballad” by producer Nellee Hooper on Post is transformed on Telegram into a symphonic piece laden with emotion. The electronic bleeps, computer noises and too- rapid drum track are replaced with an intense classical string piece by the Brodsky quartet.
“Headphones”, originally mixed with Bristol trip-hop artist Tricky, features about one-third of the original lyrics and the music is reduced to a few spare, ominous chords on the new collaboration with Finnish musician Mika Vainio.
Telegram also features a richer version of the catchy “Isobel”, reworked with composer Eumir Deodata into feistier, Brazilian-flavored rendition with a 30-piece orchestra.
Known for being a pioneer, Björk says she’s not addicted to mainstream success and likes taking musical risks.
“I just try to be as brave as I can and to take in every minute. I’m not saying I can. I can do it one out of a thousand times but I do try. It’s all about the music for me. It’s my obsession.
“For me, music is a reaction to what happens to me. It’s like a way out. You try to make sense and then there is no sense and then you write a song and for the moment everything makes sense.
She pauses before adding : “MY kind of sense.”