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Telegraph 02

Björk Introduction

I’m still here - all chuffed you’re hanging in there too this issue : is about finishing post-project and tying big red ribbon around it and then : starting a new one (the people who support me in a studio) and also : our hero Paul !!! Björk

Edito

DEAR READERS !

Here’s your second issue of Telegraph. I’m sorry its late - but hope it’s somewhat great.
As you all know Björk is working on her third album ’Homogenic’ and it’s almost there. The next issue of Telegraph will coincide with its release and we’ll focus on its story by interviewing those who have helped making it reality.
In this issue however a short travel story from Spain gives you a foretaste of what to expect. Also, there’s an interview with Paul White where we get to know the background of this long standing friend and collaborator of Björk. Plus tidbits of the entertaining and informing kind.
As before I encourage you to write to us, especially if there are topics or people you want to see covered within our pages.

Your humble and apologizing editor.

Sjón

Credits

TELEGRAPH No. 2.
Editor : Sjón
All Articles Written by Sjón
Except ’Three. Two, One, Lift Off’ Written by Rachel Crooks
Fanclub Coordinators : Nicki Mackin and Julia Proud
Design Me Company meco@meco.demon.co.uk
Artwork © 1997 Me Company. moral rights asserted and reserved
Photographs by :

  • Front Cover. Eitan © 1997
  • Page 4. Eitan © 1997
  • Page 5 & 6 Home Video Pictures Courtesy of Derek Birkett
  • Page 8. Benni
  • Page 9. Video Stills From Shepherds Bush © 1997 - One Little Indian
  • Page 10. Kjarvel Painting. First Snows. 1953 (126x95cm)
  • Courtesy of Eigandi Kjarvalssta∂ir. Reykjavík
  • and Lomagnupur / Mt. Lomagnupur. 1944 (113.5 x 171cm)
  • © Myndstef - Honnun : Hildirigunnur Gunnarsdottir, Pretun : Oddi hf
    Editors Thanks :
  • Pranta and Thomas, Anna Margret and Kjarvelsstadir, Rachel Crooks
    Björk Fanclub= P.0 Box 4219. London. SW17 7XF

The Colour Blue and The Lace of Blood

For the last six months Björk has been in Spain, working on her next album. She’s already named it ’Homogenic’ and it promises to be her best to date. It’s a whole world where ideas about the pattern of excited blood cells meet sounds suggesting great blue beams of strong emotion.

Last February I was lucky enough to be invited to spend some days with Björk and her collaborators in the El Cortijo residential studio, just north of Marbella. The studio was built some years ago by Trevor Morais, the beat magician who’s toured with Björk, and it’s simply a haven of good weather, gorgeous food, green mountains, and great music. So, all in all it’s a perfect place for masterpieces to be born.

But true to her creative formula ’1+1=3’ Björk is not alone in the studio. Her main collaborators on the new album are in El Cortijo with her, Markus Dravs, who earlier engineered some songs from ’Post’, is Björk’s right hand man in the studio. Apart from engineering the recording sessions he also lays down beats and electronic sounds. The other is Mark Bell, of LFO fame, who co-writes and cooks up rhythms.

She explained why she wanted to work with them on this project : saying that she had been thinking a lot about what is Icelandic music, what can specifically be said to be Icelandic when it comes to melodies and rhythms. It’s something she really want to bring to the music she’s making now. She explained how being from a small city by the sea, an isolated place where things have had space to grow in their own way, apart from the mainstream. On the album she hoped this Icelandic sensibility will show through the strings.

Björk felt there was something similar in what Mark has done in his music. He’s from Leeds, a place where nothing is supposed to happen. But it did with the music he made in LFO. In her mind she sees him as someone who got tired of seeing the sheep grazing the fields around his city when he peeped over the fence by his house. He went to his bedroom and responded with his music. Markus is from Frankfurt, and what he brings to the music is the German tradition of hard and pure electronics’.

It’s really fascinating to watch Björk at work. She seems to have every song thought through to the tiniest detail. A song that sounded finished and damn good to me when I arrived in Spain, continued to grow in surprising directions. Björk works the possibilities of the studio as if it’s one big instrument. Among the musicians who visited El Cortijo and contributed to the album were Koba, who conjured up everything from bird sounds to a ’Bolero-ish’ rhythm on his accordion, and an Icelandic string octet led by Jón Ragnar Örnólfsson.

The songs that saw the light of day in El Cortijo over those months were mostly written during breaks in the ’Post Tour, but Björk has also composed new songs during her nightly walks in the hills of El Madroual. The sound of the album has been clear to Björk for a long time : On one hand the songs will be made of harsh electronic sounds and the other real strings. In some they’ll be together and others apart. She’s even been thinking about mixing them so you get the electronic part of the songs in one speaker and the ’classical’ one in the other. Then you make your own mixes of the songs. You can have the granny mix, the techno mix, or a bit of both. Another thing she is working with is adding layers to the voice, singing against and with herself. It’s something she’s never done before, saying she always felt the voice should stand alone and she shouldn’t do things she couldn’t do live. But now feels she can use it as an instrument to weave different sounds together.

And that’s just what happens. The vocals you’ll hear on ’Homogenic’ come through as if a multi layered consciousness is speaking to you from the many corners of the brain at once. It also gives us more of Björk in every song, something few will complain about.

Under The Surface

On my first day in Marbella Björk took me down to the beach to see the ocean, a big thing for us icelanders. It looked just great and she told me that in certain weather and light it is possible to see the Atlas Mountains appear like huge but warm shadows over the horizon. Africa is just miles away and her mountains are what young Picasso saw when he played on the beach as a child. Or, given the prodigy he was, I should say : ’When he drew incredible masterpieces in the sand as a child’.

Anyway his paintings from the ’Blue Period’ are an important reference point for Björk when she talks about her new songs and Picasso’s blue paintings showing a world immersed in sadness. The different hues of blue make it like an underwater world where life has come to a standstill. The men, women, and children are incredibly beautiful in their quiet suffering - but at the same time it is obvious they have the strength to go on living.

She went on to explain about life continuing despite all the troubles that come with it. She didn’t like to use the word ’healing’ because it sounded too hippie but that’s what she is singing about in a lot of the songs.’

The art of surviving is a theme that surfaces in many of the lyrics of ’’Homogenic’’. Coming through suffering, alone and with the help of others, is the subject of songs like ’Jóga’, ’All Neon Like’, ’Hands’, and ’So Broken’. The emotions and sounds range from being delicate and humorous to ear-splitting and grim.

’All Neon Like’ seems to be a key song to what Björk is doing on ’Homogenic’. It’s a soundscape that pulsates and breathes like a living organism. It’s heartbeat of a rhythm rises and gets closer to you as the song progresses. The words tell of a ’healing’ that’s made possible by some sort of a cyberspatial connection. Electric blue threads reach out to someone who’s trapped in a cocoon of emotional/physical pain. As the ’healer’ feeds the ’sick’ through the threads he gains strength to start living again. But ’All Neon Like’ isn’t only about ’healing’ and features the color blue it also contains allusions to a web.

The idea of webs in different forms is at the core of ’’Homogenic’’. As we made our way from the beach to the town of Marbella. Björk showed me one of the many shops that sell traditional Spanish lace and embroidery. ’I think it’s no coincidence that we use lace to show passion. I think it’s possible that if we could trace the movements of the blood cells as they rush through the body when we are excited, that we would discover a pattern similar to lace. It’s like we’re bringing those inner, bodily functions to the surface and that we react to them because we know unconsciously they are happening inside.

She also told me that the colors inside our bodies are not bright, they are more on the dark side. If you’d experience them from within you’d be in a world of deep blue, purple and violet. So they correspond with the colors of Picasso’s paintings as well as the sea.’

And Björk goes on to tell me about life at the deepest level of the ocean where giant jelly fish communicate by means of electric flashes and the life forms have adjusted to the hostile environment. There’s a shrimp that feeds on sulphur, not many people know that.

It would be easy to drown in this flow of blue paint, purple organs, sea life and electric webs - but when we get back to El Cortijo and Björk plays me the album. I hear all those ideas come together in the music and the words. ’Homogenic’ is Björk’s most daring and radical project to date, it’s an experience as beautiful as the unexpected encounter of a blood cell and a tear at the bottom of the sea.

It’s a Me World - Me Company

The first time I met Paul White was in the autumn of 1987. I was in London with The Sugarcubes, ’Birthday’ was already out and getting the English music press excited. The single’s cover had had a strange impact on me. It was a simple piece of print work, two flowers on orange background, one black and one white, both losing a petal. Was it a loves-me/loves-me-not thin, or a symbol of deflowering ? I didn’t ask him then. We were at a Russian restaurant eating borsch and blinis, there was no time for the deconstruction of Paul’s design. The whole bunch of us were out in the street before we knew it, and then we knew no more.

In the next years I followed Paul’s work for the Sugarcubes and then again when he started working with Björk. Just by looking at how his design has changed from the handcrafted work on the Cube’s ’Life’s Too Good’ to the computerized images of Björk’s singles from ’Post’ you’ll pretty much get the story of his growth as a designer. Today Paul’s design company. Me Co., is at the forefront of 3D digital design, and has taken on projects as diverse as designing the Riki Tik bar in London’s Soho to a full blown 3D computer animated music video for the Japanese pop star Noriyuki Makihara.

But what’s the story of the man who was one of the founders of One Little Indian, and who is Björk’s longest running collaborator ? My mission : To get to know Paul, better.

The place : Me Company’s Studio. The hour : 2.00 p.m. The light : Grey and cold, contrasting with the orange colored office walls. The sound : Ambient music, a ringing telephone, the muffled sound of a mouse moving on its pad. Paul takes a sip from his cup of tea in front of a zillion gigabyte Mac that’s silently doing wonders.

Paul White : I was born in south London but when I was about seven my family moved to a town, 30 miles south. It was a new town called Crawley. I went to a school in the town with three thousand other kids. I was always good in drawing and I had a brother who was very active in a band, another brother who was like a mod, and a sister who was a skinhead. So, I grew up in a family that reflected subculture’s history. I was a punk.

The town grew from fifteen thousand to seventy thousand people in ten years, and the first thing I wanted to do was to get out. I went to college in 1976, the best time to go. The punk thing was happening, it was quite an explosive period and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a very experimental time and I was very fortunate in that the college was very free, very loose in its structure. They directed you where you wanted to go, so if I wanted to do record covers there was no one in the way stopping me doing it. That was my aim, what I set out to do. In those years I would spend time redesigning covers that I didn’t like and work on ideas for imaginary labels.

After my stay at West Sussex College of Design I moved back to London. I started working mainly within illustrations for magazines like Time Out, Company, Cosmopolitan. It was fairly early 80’s sort of stuff, punky montages, really messy collages and drawings. From there I got phoned by the art director of Polydor records, who knew what sort of things I did, and he gave me some work doing stuff for bands like Orange Juice. It was a totally new experience for me, the first kind of real graphic design jobs I got. All the things I’d done until than had been illustrative art work I’d send to a magazine and they’d taken care of everything else. Now I had to deal with the whole artwork. The illustrations, the photos and the texts. I had never done anything like it in my life.

Up to that point I had been working from my flat in West Hampstead but my new assignments took me out of there. I had to get studio space and set up a kind of working environment. I moved into a studio complex and met Ken Ansell who’d done tons of work with Virgin. I started helping him out on a few bits and pieces and things stayed like that for a couple of years. Then a job came through the door that he couldn’t handle. It was for an unknown German industrial band called Einstürzende Neubauten, who I had known about through my obsession with music. So, I worked with them on their first commercially released album in UK.

S : What was the name of the album ?

PW : ’Drawings of Patient 0T’. I think he was a Second World War victim who had lost the lower half of his body and could only lie flat. I have no idea if this is actually true, but I think he was known for doing these peculiar drawings. Einstürzende Neubauten’s songs were also very strange and like sketches of their life in Berlin when it was divided between East and West. Through them I met the people at Some Bizarre and Rob Collins who was about to set up his own label ’K 422’.

Tandem to this, Ken was being head hunted by the people at Virgin. They came up with the idea of setting up a design agency which would be owned and supported by Virgin. He thought it sounded interesting and asked Kathy, his typographer and me if we wanted to get involved. And the three of us set up a design company for Virgin, moving from Kilburn to Kensington.

I began to get dissatisfied after about five months. About this time I started getting a lot more work and more interest. I tried to pull all the work into the Virgin group, to try and build the whole thing up from Ken’s work, my work, and what kathy was doing, but it didn’t really work out. I was too single minded about what I wanted to do with the stuff I was doing, and less interested in some of the other stuff. So instead of melting into this nice big happy company it divided into what I was doing, and what Ken and Kathy was doing. At that point I realized I wasn’t a collaborator. I was too young to give up the things I wanted to do. I decided to pack it in and do my own thing. They were really good about it and gave me a sort of retainer, space and equipment so I could do both. For about six months I had two incomes and it gave me the money I needed to get a studio and set up on my own.

In the years that followed. Paul worked on album covers for artists like the Swans, Jim Thirlwell a.k.a. Foetus, Test Dept. and Nick Cave, but it isn’t easy to trace his work from this period. He operated under various names and identities.

PW : I was doing all sorts of different jobs with different kinds of musicians. Michael Gira from the Swans would send over a drawing with these ideas that he had, and sometimes he’d come over and we’d sit down and discuss things. So the result was as much the musician I was working with as me. It had no fixed identity. Sometimes the artwork was more him than me, sometimes more me than him. The whole nature of the Some Bizarre label was very open and collaborative. That’s probably one of the reasons why the work was so diverse at that point. The names I used, I wanted them to be something that didn’t deny what I was about but also silly enough, in a playful way, to represent what I was talking about, the idea of not having an identity and just wanting to work.

S : So when did you decide on the Me Company name ?

PW : I came up with the name when we started One Little Indian. The idea was that OLI would be the record label. Second Wind would be the publishing company and Me Company became the design side of the operation.

S : How did you get involved in the founding of OLI ?

PW : I met Sue Churchill when she was working for Mayking and I was spending time there taking artwork through production. She and Derek Birkett were looking for a label to put out a Flux of Pink Indians album they were recording. They’d take it around various labels before they decided the best thing to do was to release it themselves. After negotiating a P&D deal, which is a packaging and distribution deal, with Rough Trade. Then they decided to pull someone else in so they talked to me about dealing with the design side of it. Derek’s idea was that it would be a kind of partnership. Sue had a 1/3, Derek had a 1/3, I had a 1/3 with Ray Shulman working as a producer with Derek. That was the general structure of what later became One Little Indian.

S : Then The Sugarcubes came trumpeting along ?

PW : I think Einar Örn got in touch with Derek. They knew each other through Crass and Southern studios. The Sugarcubes were looking for someone to put out a record they had done in Iceland called ’Birthday’. Derek was nuts about it, we all were, and decided it was a great idea. The Sugarcubes came over to record an album. ’Birthday’ was put out and the whole thing was thriving and going really strong. Unfortunately there was no money coming in and a lot of money going out, like recording and packaging costs. The record sales were okay for a label just starting up but not good enough to support it. A business partner was looked for, someone to come in and fund it as a silent partner. So Brian Bonner from Mayking stepped forward and put up the money.

S : How did this bunch of Icelandic eccentrics strike you ?

PW : I met them in Iceland before I met them here. I think it was the first time Derek went up there, to discuss the L.P. We stayed in a guesthouse on what Sue called Sleepy Sausage Street (Snorrabraut). It was in the winter, dark all the time. We got on very well. I think. I found them very interesting, intelligent and friendly hosts, we had a really good time.

Paul’s friendship with Björk has certainly lasted. We FFW to the present day and he’s working on the artwork for ’Homogenic’. What can we expect to see ?

PW : Organic geometry, and lots of underwater inspired imagery

S : Do you always work so closely with the musician ?

PW : It really depends on the artist. Björk and I communicate very well. With color, we both know each others color sense well enough to talk about it without actually looking at them. It’s like with the color orange for ’Post’. Should it be a happy orange ? If it is a sad orange it’s not going to work. Maybe it should be a humble orange ? I love that, it gets kind of weird sometimes, but so far it has worked. What ends up in print seems to be what we discussed, so we must be communicating.

And that brings us back to the borsch and the blinis that ten years ago prevented me from communicating with Paul and asking him about what’s behind the cover for ’Birthday’ ?

PW : It’s really a very simple idea, a flower, innocence, and the loss of innocence. A symbol of a child.

Three, Two, One... Lift Off ?

Björk’s last ’Post’ concert on the 28th of February was a free gig for her fan-club members in the UK. So, we thought it was a good idea to ask one of the fans present to review it. Rachel Crooks was there. She’s the editor of the ’Sweet Intuition’ fanzine and a damn good gal. This is how she saw it :

Thigh-slapping out of the way now - a fan club gig is possibly one of the best ideas conceivable and The Shepherds Bush Empire is one of the best venues for such an event, so much respect to those who had anything to do with it. It made quite a few people more than happy, as did Björk opening with ’Sweet Intuition", pretty good name for a fanzine that. It was a real surprise. I’ve never heard of it being played live before. I’ve never been too fond of it to be honest, it doesn’t ’work’ for me but live it made sense, beautifully. Björk looked characteristically relaxed, considering the amount of fan-mayhem going on, and the band, what a lovely bunch, looked happy too. Well, not Leila, she scares me more than Scary Spice. I bet she smokes Marlboro. Mr Morais (with a strong resemblance to Animal from the Muppets) puts every bit of energy into it all, which is a visual treat. ’I Go Humble’ ’rocks’ somewhat, and ’Hyperballad’ impresses as much as ever and hey, Björk’s ’ski’ dance has evolved into a new stage - she should dance for Europe.

Seeing and hearing it all in such an intimate venue was just magic and made the tender songs all the more poignant and the ’rockers’ rock even harder. The set was just lovely and I had to fight the desire to slip one of the trees under my arm on the way out. ’The Animal’ performs his very own version of ’One Day’ superbly, which brings a bit of calm to things. It’s kinda mesmeric, bringing things to it the CD version seemed to lack. The venue is not without fault though, for at this point security turn into teachers and when a true gentlemen lends me his shoulders for the start of ’The Modem Things’ I feel well and truly ’told off’. They also had a grudge against cameras, but quite frankly, the armpits of gruff security interfering with my view doesn’t add to my enjoyment whatsoever. Neither does some degenerate geezer who decides to spend thirty minutes pissing the front row off with tales of his allegedly ’hyper’ girlfriend (who didn’t actually exist) - ’do us a favour mate, let us come to the front’ were the -lyrics to ’Venus as a Boy’ that night. If you’re reading this, feel bad ! Shouting at him for his had habits won me a spot on the front row for the last bit of the gig, so in a way, ta.

’Human Behaviour’ is about as groovy as it gets (Lyric fuck ups adding to the free-wheeling seventy miles an hour factor !), and ’Enjoy’ scares the pants off me yet again with Scary Spice cranking up the ’grrrr’ factor. Without wanting to sound predictable, ’Violently Happy’ was the track that stole my heart completely, thoroughly. A gorkish and aimless grin took over my face for five minutes - electric shocks an’ all. On a softer note, ’Anchor Song’
is delicately performed, with the lovely accordionist playing perfectly.
He’s a joy to watch too, looking as involved with the music as Björk sounds. Sadly, half way through I have a near death experience when I start choking on a bit of fluff (yeah) which lodged it’s way in my throat during the previous song - what a way to go, a bit of fluff... Each song seemed to be given a new ’Björk’ of life, although surprisingly few are turned completely on their heads. Sorely missed was the ’Over the Edge’ Hyperballad and other re-workings of tracks.
Completely new songs would have been more than welcome too, but by no means was the gig a let down.

Björk’s back for an encore after a painfully long break, and introductions to the band are dished out affectionately - but Leila’s still scary. Mr Sigsworth appears and ’It’s Oh So Quiet’ becomes a carry on style gem, a la Smash Hits Poll winners party (Shame there were no dancing toy boys around). ’Big Time Sensuality’ for the second time doesn’t appear to differ greatly from the first time around, but there are ultimately orgasmic additions on Björk’s part - big sigh, why can’t I make noises like that ? Particularly touching was Björk’s enquiries as to what song we wanted to hear - all I could hear was myself and friends yelling for ’Karvel !!’ which sadly wasn’t played. ’Venus as a Boy’ gets another go, it would’ve been nice to have something fresh and completely fucked but Venus...
was just lovely... oh and one last thing. Björk’s hair looked bloody smashing.

Rachel Crookes

Sweet Intuition c/o Rachel Crookes. 25 Elmtree Road. Cosby, Leicester.
LE9 1SR. UK.

Fan Mail

In the last issue we asked for your opinion on the magazine. We were flooded with letters and here are some of them.

Wallpaper

At last, fans of our little princess from Iceland have their own fan club with its own club magazine, Telegraph. We must thank Julia Proud for rescuing the club and its magazine from running aground before it got anywhere.
Our magazine has taken on an unusual format, in that it’s the first magazine you can hang on the wall to read. It makes very interesting reading, so much so, that I would suggest that you hang it on the wall after you have read it, unless you want a long stand and sore feet.

Being Glaswegian, I was particularly interested in what Howie wrote about Glasgow. Over the past few years, Glasgow has become a very vibrant city, more so since the opening of the SECC and Strathclyde Park which is not far from the city. We also have various other musical events through the year, like the week-long jazz festival. But the main piece was the interview with Björk. It was a fascinating conversation and I think that I will be reading it again and again before my copy of the magazine finds It way onto the wall. I wonder when Björk will find time to visit Glasgow to meet up with her many fans here.
Thanks Julia and Sjon, nice one.
Ian Ward

Well, what can we say apart from thank you Ian and we hope you live in a big house. Björk will undoubtedly visit the vibrating Glasgow in the near future...

Spell Checking

Thanks for the first edition of ’Telegraph’ - it’s a lovely glossy piece of literature with great photos and color. However it was completely full of spelling mistakes, which almost made it unreadable... Please in the future try and get someone to check it before it’s printed...
Sorry to gripe, but it did ruin an otherwise beautiful magazine.
Bye for now.
Matt

We’re sorry about the spelling mistakes and just hope we got it right this time around.

Praise Lament and a correction

I have received the 1st issue of Telegraph !! It’s wonderful ! Why haven’t I received the ’Unplugged’ CD ? Why ?? WHlY ??
There’s something else : I am the one who actually had the idea of starting ’XtraBjörk’, the Italian fanzine, so the other guy Abbiati Andrea is just a collaborator. I want to let you know that what you wrote is wrong..

The address you wrote is wrong the correct one is :
Massimo Verrone
Via Perlini 1
20020 Solaro (mi)
Italy

Ciao.
Massimo Verrone

Ehrm, thank you Massimo. We hope you’ve received your copy of ’Unplugged’ by now. The reason it took so long to get made was that we had to finalize the deal with MTV. Regarding your correction we just hope you are right. Over to you Abbiati ...

So, keep ’em letters coming. Poems and pictures of yourselves in a good and Björky mood are also welcome.

Competition

Each issue we will try to bring you a competition, it’s your chance to win exclusive Björk goodies which may not be available to buy.

To celebrate the first competition we are giving away five sets of limited edition 12" remixes (5 different versions) with embossed metallic colored artwork, each 12" contains 2 tracks

1. Possibly Maybe (Lucy Mix) / Enjoy (Further Over The Edge Mix)
2. Hyperballad (Towa Tei Remix) / Enjoy (The Beats Mix)
3. I Miss You (Photek Mix) / Cover Me (Dillinja Mix)
4. Big Time Sensuality (Plaid Mix) / One Day (Trevor Morais Remix)
5. Isobel’s Lonely Heart (Goldie Remix) / Hyperballad (Robin Hood...)

Just Write and tell us...

Björk comes from iceland. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavík. What does Reykjavík mean in English ?

The first five winners picked from the Björk Fan Club Pot will each receive a set of 12".

Send your answers on a ’Post’card or on the back of a sealed envelope to :Björk Fanclub - Reykjavík Competition @ the usual fanclub address.

F.A.Q. - Kjarval

When Björk truly debuted with her album ’Björk’, at the age of eleven, only one song was written by herself. It was a sweet flute tune named ’Kjarval’. Because the title is clear to every child in Iceland but nothing more than an r-rolling exotica to the rest of the world here’s its story.

Kjarval (1885-1972) is Iceland’s most loved and greatest painter, and Björk’s song is a tribute to the man and his art. He was born Jóhannes Sveinsson on the east coast of Iceland. When he grew up Icelandic ’art’ as such didn’t exist. Apart from embroidery and woodcarvings with beautiful but predictable ’folk’ motives, the only pictures Kjarval came across as a child was a strange bric-a-brac that, almost literally, washed up on the shores of the island. He claimed that what got him interested in painting was the colorful wrappings of different food tins and cans, reproductions of religious ’kitsch’ such as the Virgin Mary with the heart on the outside, and portraits of the Czar and Czarina of Russia. How their noble faces found their way to a small fishing village in Iceland remains a mystery, but there they were.

Kjarval’s first motives were the sea, the sky, the mountains, and his beloved barks that glided on the fjords. But he didn’t only paint their white sails for he was also on board, working as a sailor until his dream of studying art brought him to Reykjavík. At the time only two icelanders had had any arts education and he studied under both. His talent was indisputable and in 1912 Kjarval left Iceland to study in Paris where the Symbolists and Gustave Moreau’s hallucionary paintings of mythical beings fascinated him.

Returning to Iceland, Kjarval used his skills to show his compatriots their own country as they’d never seen it before. His eyes seemed to see through the landscape, the mountains and the fields of lava and moss. What ended up on the canvas wasn’t only the surface of Nature but also its spirits and invisible beings. Moreau’s world of glamourous kings became a kingdom populated by muddy elves, fair fairies and giant trolls of granite.

Kjarval was as unpredictable in his life as in his art and his eccentricities became a legend. He was a free spirit, untouched by the rules of society. When the City of Reykjavík tried to honor him by giving him a big house to live in he refused to accept it. The house was turned into a home for mentally disturbed children, he continued to live in his studio.

The GrapeWire

Björk receives the Nordic Council’s Music Prize

The 3rd of March Björk was in Oslo, Norway, to receive the Nordic Council’s Music Prize. The prize is the most prestigious recognition musicians in the Nordic Countries can hope for. Every second year it goes to a composer for a certain piece, but the other it’s awarded for performance. According to the jury it awarded Björk the prize for both being an outstanding performer and an original musician. It also helped, they said, that she had always stood her ground in the wicked and wacky world of the pop industry. One jury member went as far as linking her to Heimdall, a god from the Norse pantheon. Björk, she said is the guardian of the rainbow bridge between what’s classic and modern in music.
At the award ceremony, Björk speaking in Icelandic, dedicated the prize to her parents Derek Birkett, and especially to her grandmother Dida who’s birthday was on that very day. After being handed the prize Björk gave a short performance. Accompanied by the Brodsky Quartet she did beautiful versions of ’Yo’ve Been Flirting Again’, ’Hyperballad’, and ’5 Years’.

Bears, Fried Eggs Teeth Of Steel And Chickens Torn Apart

A compilation of Björk videos is about to be put out by One Little Indian. It will feature all the singles from ’Debut’ and ’Post’ in their uncut versions. But as you might know three of the videos ’Violently Happy’. ’Army of Me’ and ’I Miss You’ were censored or recut for the hypersensitive people at MTV.
Björk has always been heavily involved in the making of the videos and the result show on the compilation. All nine of the videos are gems that sparkle and shine in comparison with the mindless ass swinging adverts most artists are offered by their record companies.

Lumps From The Past

At last One Little Indian is releasing a compilation of songs from the Sugarcubes three albums. It’s been named ’it’s Great Crossover Potential’ and features all the singles plus few more. ’Birthday’. ’Cold Sweat’. ’Regina’. ’Hit’ and ’Walkabout’ will make you want to be a thirty something pining for lost times.
The title refers to music business lingo. When faced with something new and unclassifiable record company executives tend to hope it’s got a ’crossover potential’ e.g. that the masses will understand it and pay for it.
For all of you who discovered Björk with ’Debut’ and later this compilation will be a treat. Hear her ’whoo-whoo’ and duh-dee-doo’ to the eccentric popish beats of the fearsome six pack that was the Sugarcubes.

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