Saturday, April 28, 2007

Björk - Volta

Björk's career so far has probably been one of the most intelligent ones ever. Carefully choosing and studying everything that's associated with her universe, each step she's given has had the ultimate consequence of building herself an iconic status, seen as an alternative symbol and fanatically adored by many (and, consequently, hated by others). What's even more interesting is that she seems to do this in a natural and instinctive way, as if it was (and probably is) involuntarily.
Musically, each Björk album has a life of its own, a concept and a philosophy that is very individual and unique. In this decade, so far she was riding an experimentation curve, with records being gradually more difficult and conceptual: there was the emotional soundtrack for the most sadistic and masochistic movie ever - Dancer In The Dark ("Selma Songs", 2000); the laptop-created highly intimate album ("Vespertine", 2001); the all-vocals no-instruments album ("Medúlla", 2004); and the soundtrack for one of Mathew Barney's - her partner - movie installments ("Drawing Restraint 9", 2005). Now, with "Volta", she makes a radical cut in this curve, turning her head again into pop music - but of course, pop music seen as a ground for experimentation.
There's two ways you can look at "Volta", each one as a sum of many things.
If you want to look only into her universe, "Volta" picks some bits from the many Björk's we've had in the past and builds something that feels completely new. From "Medúlla" we have the sense of experimentation; from "Vespertine" we have the scientific attention to details while following an ideal of beauty; from "Post" there's the energy and the colorful approach; from "Homogenic" we have the geometric electronic beats and the extrovert singing; from "Debut" comes the pop sense; from "Selma Songs" she takes the dramatic feelings and the use of brass instruments; and from "Drawing Restraint 9" she continues to study oriental music and building cinematic atmospheres.
The second way to look at "Volta" is more global: it grabs a lot of things from different music styles and parts of the world, with some details that could be a world music lover's wet dream: flamenco guitars that are, in fact, oriental objects; hip-hop beats twisted in imaginative ways; punk and protest shouts married with horns and synthesizers (that sound like loud guitars); african beats mashed up with hip-hop samples; hallucinating percussions used to take torch love duets to insanely intense proportions; intimate songs with unexpected beautiful details and imaginative vocal harmonies.
What's born from all this? Something with a sense of unity that is unexplainable but can be understood with her own words, when she said she wanted to create a universal beat for the human race to march. Hearing "Volta" can be a pretty intense experience: there's a huge sense of ceremony, as if we're listenning to something truly important; also, each song is so cleverly built that involves its listenner to higher levels (hence the many goosebumps felt). But when she said she wanted to make something celebratory, she didn't lie. This is also an ode to nature (felt, for example, in its interludes), to our most primitive feelings and ultimately to the world, including some of her most political lyrics ever, along with the usual abstract poems. At the same time, its most proeminent instrumental elements (the 10-piece brass section and the beats/percussions) are used as two sides of the same coin, a bit like appealing to our most primal instincts in a sophisticated way. And the brass sounds also add a beautiful atmoshere that is literally breathtaking. But better than words, the best way to understand "Volta" is to hear it. In her quest for musical perfection, she has once again outdone herself. (9/10)


D. Maria e o Coelhinho said...

We love this blog..

joana said...

she's always too much.

Random types said...

Sim! :)
Pois, não há ninguém como ela, pois não?

Frioleiras said...

Gosto muito da Bjork !



joana said...

não há, é que não há mesmo

joana said...

temos sorte de fazer parte da era dela. tenho pena dos meus filhos.

Lia Sáile said...

Hey there,
interesting review(s) and insiht, thanks for you effort to keep this blog.
I found it today, (am currently considering to add my "own blog" to my arts-page, so stumbled upon yours while also searching for Björk :-))
Thamks again.

)( Lia

Lia Sáile said...

weird I had written a post but I think it disappeared...?

Random types said...

It didn't disappear, it's just that comments are moderated. Had to do this to avoid spam. thanks for your comment! :)