Björk

Vulnicura

One Little Indian

www.Bjork.com

 

With Christmas out the way and everyone struggling to get through the cold of January, It was welcome news that Björk would release her first album in 4 years after the extreme success of her last multimedia project; Biophilia. The album had been hinted at when a statement had been released from her team regarding her absents from the London premier of “Björk: Biophilia live” stating that “since Björk is already working on her next album (out in 2015!) She can not come to the ‘Biophilia live’ premiere at the London film festival this week.”. January 14th came with further clarity on the new album where title, track listing, production and whiting credits we’re released and that it would be released in March. Sadly this was not to be with just days after being announced it surfaced online nearly 2 months ahead of release. The album now being available on iTunes as of January 20th marks the first official action undertaken from team Björk since the leak, however it has been confirmed that the hardcopies of both Vinyl and CD will still have the original release date of March. Björk personally took to her fan club forum to update the fans about the project saying “hi forum folks. i am very grateful for your loyalty and respect during the album leak. honoured that some of you would wait until march …. but perhaps now you won’t need to wait so long …. ! warmth, björk” which was well received by the group.

 

The album itself is made up of 9 tracks

“6 songs written by Björk, 2 songs co-written with Arca, 1 with john Flynn

String arrangements by Björk

6 songs produced by Björk & Arca, 1 by Björk & Arca & the Haxan cloak, 2 by Björk

Mixed by the Haxan cloak except 2 songs mixed by the Haxan cloak and Chris elms

Mastered by Mandy Parnell’

 

The whole album follows the devastating break down in her long term relationship with fellow artist, Matthew Barney. We start 9 months prior to the end and finish 11 months after. The emotions are just as raw now as they ever were.

The album starts with a moody string arrangement on ‘Stonemilker’ layered upon the fluid like textures of Björk’s vocals giving the listener Goosebumps with the raw and direct delivery. I couldn’t help but notice beats reminiscent of ‘All Is Full of Love’ from her Homogenic era.

‘Lionsong’ is a natural partner of stonemilker both narratively and in the use of dramatic string arrangements against the power of her voice resulting in a combination that fails to disappoint. With the added electronic element you can really hear why Arca was asked to collaborate of this album.

‘History Of Touches’ one of the shortest tracks on the album but at the same time one of the most atmospheric, again really showing off the skills that Arca brought to this and how Björk can really bring out the best in any collaboration.

Next up is ‘Black Lake’ and as the title suggests it has that dark moody sound that seems to be a running theme throughout this album with the ever occurring string arrangements by Björk. Minimal electronic beats play as she sings so passionately that you feel as though you have wondered on to her personal diary. Notes are held for a few seconds giving a lead up to a catchy interplay between the strings and electronic.

‘Family’ really hits you as the intro presents booming thuds of audio power with Björk singing in a layered style that make you feel that she is singing from the rim of an erupting volcano projecting with tame power. The style then breaks of into another disjointed string arrangement almost feeling like another track all together. However just like many of her songs you become subdued with thinking you know what’s happening when all of a sudden that same erupting volcano from earlier has calmed back down and a more ambient ethereal soundscape comes through.

‘Notget’ the only track on the album to be jointly produced by Björk, Arca and The Haxan Cloak. With a chilling back beat and sporadic arrangement possibly played on organ? Either way these three forces have come together and like forces of nature that have collided to create a track that encapsulates the combines styles of all three artists.

‘Atom Dance (feat. Antony)’ which happens to be Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons is a fresh treat. Nowhere had it been said that She would appear on the album, however the duet threw warm memories of the collaboration on ‘Dull Flame of Desire’. The track starts with Björk singing over a beat that sounds rather familiar to an early track in her discography called ‘unison’.

‘Mouth Mantra’ is another track jointly produced by Björk and Arca that gives it self up to the interplay between the electronic beats mixed with the ever present lush tones of string arrangements. Perhaps not one of Arca’s strongest moments on the album but his style is heard all the same.

Lastly the album is brought to a close with ‘Quicksand’. This track is a real treat to those who like the electronic side of Björk’s work as this track almost sounds like it has already been remixed in comparison to the rest of the album. Perhaps I’m being too sensitive but to the seasoned fan (holds hand up) you would be forgiven for noticing that the signature “aaaarrrGggGGGRR” that Björk has come to adopt sounds like a sample from an earlier track called ‘Alarm Call’…Just me?

All in all with all the things that has happened surrounded the release of this album it is safe to say Björk is a true artist and firm optimist, Rather than moaning about the leak she instead decide the acknowledge the message behind this, that there is still a demand for her music. It couldn’t be easy considering the narrative of the the album to see it happen so suddenly, however she kept her cool and delivered another successful portfolio piece for the Icelandic songstress that can move you to tears with the raw emotion running throughout…. Now lest hope some London dates are in line!

Kieran White

 

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