Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Homogenic Bjork

Music by Bjork is anything but homogenic. Her talents lead her to challenge accepted musical structures, while still creating memorable aural images. Her own life has had similar challenges, from a mail bomb to graphic breakups.

Her third album, "Homogenic", captures many of these conflicted emotions in a form that has few parallels. (I went back and listened to this album in preparation for her most recent "Medulla", a vocal symphony)

The first song, "Hunter" utilizes a soundscape of stretched violin notes, and dissonant beats to describe a primitive and post-modern soul on a mission, a hunt, an explorer of spaces of the heart.If travel is searching/And home has been found/I'm not stopping/I'm going hunting/I'm the hunter. She comments, interestingly, "I thought I could organize freedom/How Scandinavian of me"

"Joga" perhaps addresses Bjork's inability to fathom "emotional landscapes" in the general sense. It is an appeal for the Self to be understood by the Other, decrying the "State of Emergency" which exists when 'The riddle is solved". The sounds of Icelandic volcanoes provide a haunting backdrop to the scene.

"Unravel" is a humorous song that treats the lover's heart like a ball of yarn unravelled by the devil when separated from the other, and the need to 'make new love' to restore it. This song does not quite work for me, despite Bjork's emotion-dripping voice, layered vocals and images.

This song nicely sets off the next - "Bachelorette" is a compelling song, one of her best. Interestingly, it is quite in line with pop song structures, musically and lyrically. The lyrics flow together well, the violins and beats do not intrude or wander off into strange alleyways. "I'm a fountain of blood/In the shape of a girl/You're the bird on the brim/Hypnotised by the Whirl/
Drink me, make me feel real/Wet your beak in the stream/Game we're playing is life/Love is a two way dream".
At its heart, the song is a woman's cautionary tale - the lover is naught without her sustaining force. He must forever cherish her, else he 'will go astray/Like a killer whale/Trapped in a bay', quite an Icelandic image.

"All Neon Like" would be good soundtrack for a Halo film, if ever there was one. A psycedelic song, it describes a protective cocoon, and a nourishing luminous beam. Electronic distortion is liberally applied, along with a pulsating beat."Not 'til you halo all over me/I'll come over/Not 'til it shimmers 'round your skull/I'll be yours/I weave for you/The marvellous web/Glow in the dark threads/All neon like"

"5 Years" is a powerful warning song to lovers who neglect to recognize the value of the love they possess. Bjork dares the craven cowards to take her on, to show their pulse. Scratchy, menacing tones permeate the song. "I'm so bored of cowards/That say they want/Then they can't handle"

"Immature" is a plaintive, semi-Icelandic elegy to the loss of love, and the understanding that follows - the ability of the Self to exist independent of the Other. "How could I be so immature?/To think he could replace,/The missing elements in me,/How extremely lazy of me."

"Alarm Call" is an electronica, new wave hymn on how you "can't say no to happiness". She expresses her desire to "go on a mountain-top/With a radio and good batteries/And play a joyous tune and/Free the human race
From suffering"
She goes on to insist that "I'm no fucking buddhist/But this is enlightenment/The less room you give me/The more space I've got"

"Pluto" is another electronic-heavy, cryptic tone more suited for a psychedlic head-trip than easy listening on a summer evening. Her voice reaches levels one did not imagine possible in this song, vocalizing her inner depths.

This album of heartbreak and anguish ends on a hopeful note with "All Is Full Of Love", reassuring one that love is all around and will be given, "Maybe not from the sources/You have poured yours/Maybe not from the directionsYou are staring at"

Bjork demostrates her ability to transform common pop into unusual, mystical notes. I see her music as Cubist in inspiration and conviction, reconstructing the world as we see it from a perspective on a different plane.

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader