While it’s perhaps unfair to draw a parallel between Björk’s dippy pixie act and the faux-retards in ‘The Idiots’, it’s obvious that she and Dogma god Lars von Trier are kindred spirits. Both have rewritten the rules of their chosen medium over the past decade to both acclaim and indignation, both have crafted some of the most unsettlingly brilliant works of recent years. In this, the soundtrack to their cinematic collaboration ‘Dancer In The Dark’, Björk has allowed her innate theatricality centre-stage and discarded much of the impersonal electronica that dulled last album ‘Homogenic’.
Assuming that you rightly consider ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ to be a work of genius, ‘SelmaSongs’ is manna from Broadway musical heaven. Aided by co-star Catherine Deneuve, Thom Yorke and composer Vincent Mendoza, Björk has managed to write a score capable of standing independent of the film. ‘I’ve Seen It All’ —in the film, the moment where she confronts her encroaching blindness—works alone as a love duet between her and Yorke. While the groundswell of strings on ‘In The Musicals’ recalls ‘Venus As A Boy’, the rest of the album finds inspiration in the incidental noise from the film - trains, machinery, marching ( ‘107 Steps’)—and moulds a remarkably human sound from it.
Ironically, given that the filming was said to have almost killed her, ‘SelmaSongs’ has positively revived Björk’s sonic muse. Cinema’s loss—she’s vowed to never act again—is music’s gain.