BBC Manchester

Medúlla

Medúlla
One Little Indian
Rating : 8/10

There are many individuals in the world of music, many free spirits and wilful composers, but there is
only one Björk. Always unfathomable, she approached this, her fifth studio album proper with the idea
that instruments are over.

She’s wrong, of course, but you can’t help but be impressed at her attempts to create an entire album
without them (more or less, there are programmed beats on here and one piano, but do they count ?).
Medúlla is probably her most challenging long player yet, as stark, mystifying and rich as her screen
performance in Dancer In The Dark, and though it strays in places into areas where ambition and reality
miss each other, it is a brutally beautiful album.

With the help of an Inuit throat singer, a Japanese a cappella star, an English folk legend, a pair of Americans
(one rock singer and one hip hop ace), and two choirs, along with her usual collection of collaborators,
Björk has created an album without boundaries, a premise she plays out in the collection’s centre piece,
Oceania (the song she helped open the Olympics with).

Alongside it, the beauty of Vökuró shines in its simplicity, the building swoon of Öll Birtan sways through
the ears, the punching rhythm of Triumph Of The Heart twitches through the spine, and the closest thing
to a normal tune, Who Is It, bounces with the kind of joyful abandon that has made Björk the star she is.

It doesn’t all work. The beats on Where Is The Line are cripplingly heavy, the hyperventilation of Ancestors
becomes overpowering and Mouth’s Cradle allows Björk’s vocals to get lost under a sea of choirs and bass,
but they are forgivable errors.

As other snuggle down into their back catalogue, Björk continues to push boundaries and though she
may occasionally fall short of her aims, surely it is better that she reaches for “a palm full of stars” than
settles with mere reflections of her talents.

Chris Long

publié dans BBC Manchester - 01.09.2004

 

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