Sensible Sound

The house at carousel corner

Björk, Vespertine (Elektra)

It’s not difficult to imagine that Björk’s quixotic auralscapes are spawned from the icy blue Atlantic that relentlessly engirds her native Iceland. Spare, ethereal, like her heavily accented voice, Björk’s arrangements seem to hover in the background, Muzak for the mystic. Vespertine, like Debut, Post, and Homogenic, only serves to deepen the mystery of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Her poetry, written in a foreign tongue, is stripped to bare essentials : “He’s the beautifullest, fragilest, still strong/ Dark and divine/And the littleness of his movements/Hides himself/He invents a charm that makes him invisible/Hides in the hair/Can I hide there too ?” (“Hidden Place”). Indeed, Björk revels in her men, swathing them in wordspun cocoons. The revulsion that seems to characterize Tori Amos and the drooling slavishness that typifies too many pop chanteuses are simply foreign to Björk’s world.

The surprise in Vespertine is her bow to the minutest of pop sensibilities. The verses in “It’s Not Up To You” swirl with synthesizers and a harp before cresting in a chorus of stunning beauty. Again her lyrics reveal only shades : “If you wake up/And your day feels broken/Just lean into the crack/And it will tremble
ever so nicely/Notice how it sparkles down there”. And “Frosti” is perhaps the first pop song written for and recorded by ... a music box. From the Aries-like cornucopia in Rolling Stone to Homogenic’s top-heavy Ubangi geisha, Björk’s personas spill out in a stream of visual consciousness, just as her music cascades in effortless shards. Vespertine is another self-portrait, or better still another portion of the self-portrait that will continue to emerge.

publié dans Sensible Sound - 01.07.2002

 

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