Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bjork's Dark Fairy Tale

I'm not sure anyone could have predicted the type of career BJORK has had. From pixieish lead singer of the dance pop band THE SUGARCUBES to solo club diva to leading lady of the electronic music movement, Bjork has used her unique voice and ear for melody to make her both commercially viable and critical darling all at once. Now on her 8th solo record, "Biophilia" finds Bjork continuing to push her own personal and professional boundaries developing new instruments to get the sounds she wants.

The opening track, "Moon", is a lullaby of sorts to nature that features Bjork's voice meshing with the tinkling of a toy piano. "Thunderbolt" washes a muted beat with synths and strings in a track that recalls her classic "Hyberballad". The single "Crystaline" blows the doors off the record with it's cacophony of beats and drum n bass tempo like something from APHEX TWIN. The middle portion of the record is definitely downtempo, with "Dark Matter" serving as the musical equivalent of walking through the woods on a dark and creepy evening. "Hollow" continues that feel with ominous strings taking the listener through the night before a deep bass line grabs the song and blasts it into the future. I get the feeling that in someone else's hands "Virus" would have been a saccharine  pop song but with Bjork in charge, it's more of a baroque torch song. "Sacrifice" replicates "Crystaline's" slow build to beat heaven trick to lesser success, but I'm sure someone will remix the hell out of it. The record comes to a close with the soft acoustic picking of "Solstice", which is like waking from a very dark dream into the morning light.

Bjork has said the this record is about the combination of nature and technology and although the  record is more images than straight ahead thoughts, one can see the connection. The absence of her old pop hooks makes this a tough listen and will not really garner her any new followers. There are no club stompers here, just musings in the classical and jazz senses. I'm not sure I love this record as much as her others, but fans of hers will no doubt continue to place her on her pedestal as one of the most innovative musicians creating music today.

(mp3) Bjork -- Sacrifice

For those who miss the dancy feel of her early work check out this remix of "Virus" which updates it for the club masses.

(mp3) Bjork -- Virus (Them Jeans Remix)

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