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Bjork - Telegram (1996)

As a collection of Post remixes, Telegram is a stopgap album, but a well done one - it's hard to mess up when the source material is so good.

Telegram is a good companion piece to Post then, but also a good album just on its own - the remixers have done a fine job of distancing themselves from the originals, even within the first two tracks, which are quite radically different ... the mix of "Possibly Maybe" puts a nearly obnoxious effect on the vocals while retaining zero of the original's melodic appeal, and the mix of "Hyperballad" is basically a strings and vocals re-recording that brings out the traditionality of the tune.

As good as much of Telegram is though, there are a couple of things that bring the affair down. Perhaps a bit too 'avant dance' are the mixes of "Enjoy" and "Army of Me". I don't get it. Which is possibly the point. In which case, I wouldn't like it anyway.

When things are taken to the next level however - where boundaries are disregarded and excitement outweighs posturing - such as on the brilliant drum 'n' bass revisit of "Cover Me", and the "Headphones (0 Remix)" (which easily outdoes its predecessor) things get really interesting.

So Telegram is a kind of a 50/50 affair, but still stands as a proper album in its own right, which says a lot, considering it's essentially an afterthought remix album.

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by Reviewer: Austin

Posted: Wednesday 18th Oct 2017 11:14 AM
Recent album review
Aimee Mann's seventh album sees her return to the (seemingly) simple format of finely-crafted songs. Produced by her bass player Paul Bryan, the overall sound takes fans back to the heyday of her work with Jon Brion, on albums like Bachelor No.2.

What makes Mann such a treasure is that at the heart of her work is a darker, bleaker worldview than you'd expect from the tastefully Beatlesque arrangements and melodies that cocoon it. Like Neil Finn - with whom she shares a certain, pop-for-grown-ups sound - there's little fancier here than piano, acoustic, and drums (with occasional strings). Yet whereas Finn's songs concern themselves with temptation and loss, Mann's oeuvre revolves around the black heart of her native California.

The characters that inhabit songs like "31 Today" and first single "Freeway", are always marginal souls, struggling with isolation, obsession, and addiction. Indeed, a theme that seems to recur is alcohol and its aftermath ...

There's the bar room 'jollity' of "Ballantines", where she's joined by ambient/folk guru Sean Hayes, while on "It's Over" she says Everything's beautiful, every day's a holiday, the day you live without it. Meanwhile, on "31 Today" she's drinking to alleviate the disappointment of her fourth decade (she's actually in her fifth).

The other typically 'Mannian' theme is the nature of relationships that border on abusive. On "Phoenix" her lover loves her like a dollar bill. You roll me up and trade me in, while on "Medicine Wheel" she did the right thing and returns to the kind of righteous payback she's always been so good at.

In other words, Aimee Mann knows it's a deeply flawed universe we inhabit. Remember, this is the woman whose work inspired Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia. And there are few less flattering representations of humanity.

Still, despite the ornery cussedness of the album's title, the material leaves a sense of something undeniably beautiful and subtle. Like all her best work, it will continue to unfold and grow with repetition. And that's the sign of true artistry, and something to smile about.

Rated: no rating
by Reviewer: BBC Music

Posted: Wednesday 18th Oct 2017 11:39 AM
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