Björk – The Breezeblock & Mixing It Specials

It’s more than a little staggering to realise that today is the 45th birthday of one Björk Guðmundsdóttir, an artist i’ve followed for the entirety of her solo career and continue to admire very much (one day, i hope to explore her complete output here—when i have a couple of spare months to devote to it, that is…); to mark the occasion, two special items from the 5:4 archive.

First is my complete recording of Mary Anne Hobbs’ Breezeblock Special, devoted to Björk, broadcast on 26 October 2004. Björk’s one-hour mix—in which every song is introduced at length by Björk herself—is wonderfully diverse, and a fascinating insight into the kind of music she finds inspirational, unsurprisingly including a number of artists with whom she’s been associated: Matmos are represented by ‘Regicide’, by no means their greatest track, while 808 State‘s ‘Cübik’ may well be their finest hour (although it’s not aging well).

Kukl, the ’80s band in which Björk was vocalist, is described by Wikipedia as an ‘anarcho-punk’ group, but if ‘Dismembered’ is typical of their music, it’s much too tame for an epithet like that; regardless, it’s pretty enjoyable stuff, the seed of what would become The Sugarcubes (conspicuously absent from the programme). and there’s plenty of Björk’s solo music too; the glorious ‘Hyperballad’ (her most remixed song) opens the programme, and there are two tracks from her superlative album Medúlla, released a couple of months earlier that year, performed live at Maida Vale; they’re remarkable versions of the songs—an Inuit choir, a bell orchestra and a throat singer are all involved—and while ‘Who Is It?’ was included on one of the CD singles of that song, as far as i know ‘The Pleasure Is All Mine’ has not yet found its way onto an official release.

For the rest, despite the presence of one or two distinctly damp squibs (Kid 606‘s ‘Sugarcoated’ is a definite “must try harder” effort, and DAF‘s ‘Sato Sato’ quickly palls), the programme is an enthralling listen, and goes a long way to elaborate the more unconventional sounds and textures that have become ubiquitous in Björk’s output from Vespertine onwards. Morton Feldman and Stravinsky make unexpected appearances in the mix, sitting cheek by jowl with the insane, scat-dominated big band of Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Nobukazu Takemura‘s delicious glitchtronics, one of Michael Jackson‘s many over-egged puddings and even a brilliantly bizarre rendition of ‘Frosty the Snowman’. It’s doubtful that The Breezeblock, despite all its unclassifiable glory, ever got quite as resplendently eclectic as this.

Here’s the tracklisting in full:

  • Björk – Hyperballad
  • Si Begg – Revolution No. 2
  • Matmos – Regicide
  • Kukl – Dismembered
    The Breezeblock Bomb

  • Kid 606 – Sugarcoated
  • Ricardo Villalobos – Hireklon
  • Björk – The Pleasure Is All Mine (Live at Maida Vale)
  • Björk – Who Is It? (Live at Maida Vale)

Björk Headline DJ Set

  • DAF – Sato Sato
  • Morton Feldman – Flute and Orchestra
  • The Associates – No
  • Igor Stravinsky – Les Noces – Svadebka: First Tableau
  • Spike Jones and His City Slickers – Hawaiian War Chant
  • Michael Jackson – Butterflies
  • Vashti Bunyan – Glow-worms
  • 808 State – Cubik
  • Nobukazu Takemura – Icefall
  • Dani Siciliano – Walk The Line
  • Amalia Rodriguez – Poro Que Lavas No Rio
  • Larry 7 – Frosty The Snowman
  • Bodenständig 2000 – Saureschnauze
  • Mu – Jealous Kids
  • I’m Not A Gun – Walk Through Walls
  • Solotempo – Egoist (Original Mix)
  • Arturo Klauft – Unknown
  • Seaming – Vertigo Billy
  • Sewa – Kitchen

The second recording dates even further back, to 17 March 2002: the edition of Mixing It with Björk in conversation with hosts Mark Russell and the muchly-missed Robert Sandall, who died earlier this year. The programme shares the spirit of Björk’s mix from The Breezeblock, featuring a collection of her own songs interpolated among favourite tracks by other artists, surrounded by discussions that place them all within the context of her own output. She discusses the processes involved in the creation of her then latest album, Vespertine, and also Selmasongs and Post, as well as her collaborations with John Tavener and Mark Bell, and the way her songs have been extensively remixed over the years. As ever, Sandall and Russell ask their sensitive, penetrating questions in a typically gentle and congenial way.

Here’s the tracklisting:

  • Björk – Harm of Will
  • John Tavener – To a child dancing in the wind
  • Björk – Unravel
  • Public Enemy – Rebel Without a Pause
  • Björk – Scatterheart
  • Chris Watson – Horse of the Woods
  • Björk – Cover Me
  • Nico – My Only Child
  • Björk – Anchor Song (Black Dog Remix)
  • Ensemble – Sketch Proposals 5
  • Björk – Sun in my Mouth (recomposed by Ensemble)

The Breezeblock

Mixing It

Posted on by 5:4 in Anniversaries
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5 Responses to Björk – The Breezeblock & Mixing It Specials

  1. Our Song

    Thank you so much for this post…its great! I was wondering whether you had any more of the Mixing It Björk Interviews done for the releases of Medulla and Drawing Restraint 9. I have been looking all over for them. I really miss Mixing It and found those interviews very special indeed. I would be very grateful for any clues. Thanks!

  2. ∑∑∑

    The weird german track you listed as "Bodenstandig 200 – Saureschuduze" is actually from Bodenständig 2000. The track is called "Saureschnauze" (Track 2 on Rephlex CAT 068 CD from 1999)

  3. Anonymous

    The song "Glow Worms" is by Vashti Bunyan and the first song is actually "Sato Sato" by D.A.F.

  4. 5:4

    Thanks to ∑∑∑ & Anonymous for clarifying the music – the text has now been amended.

  5. Chaos AD

    Many thanks for the 2 shows! In case you're interested in any of mine, please drop me a line, I will give you my SoulSeek user name.
    Cheers!

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