Detroit Free Press

Vespertine

"Vespertine" (Elektra) 4 stars

Björk has been all about grabbing attention these last few years. It’s not just the kooky swan outfit she crammed herself into for the Academy Awards ceremony in March, or the increasingly eccentric videos that have accompanied her singles. You can find it in the music itself : Her 1997 albums “Telegram” and “Homogenic” were emphatic, even aggressive, excursions into trippiness, as Björk gleefully challenged her listeners in song : “I dare you to take me on.”

But on “Vespertine,” the Icelandic artist is less concerned with brandishing her colors than with slipping through the looking glass. Oh, she’s still daring us, all right, but this time it’s to join her for an exercise in meditation. The album is all stylish lullaby, a warm fairy tale of ambient tones, found sounds and gorgeously textured instrumentation. Intimate and introspective, Björk isn’t trying to confront or startle. “Vespertine” is emotional seduction.

The songs—call them soundscapes—slide gently in and out of one another. “Hidden Place” launches the album with a metronomic electronic beat encased in the lush wrapping of a cosmic choir ; from there it’s a celestial drift through standout tracks like “Cocoon,” “Aurora” and the instrumental “Frosti.”

Harps, bells and indiscernible household sounds lurk at the fringes of the mix. At the center of it all, though, remains Björk’s delicate, otherworldly voice—head-scratching and heart-turning, and still the ultimate source of Björk’s enchantment.

publié dans Detroit Free Press - 04.09.2001

 

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