St. Petersburg Times

All things Björk and beautiful

The tiny Scandinavian with the big, brittle voice puts an artistic outpouring on view.

Is she forever to be known as the lady in the swan dress ?

One thing’s for sure. Icelandic iconoclast Björk sure has her own sense of style.

She has her own musical vision, too. And it’s challenging, provocative and unique.

This summer, Björk released a number of DVDs, live albums and arty books, and did a small North American tour. The DVDs include a live concert special, a collection of her scintillating music videos and insider documentaries featuring interviews with famous Björk fans (among them : Missy Elliott, Elton John and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke). With the deluge of all things Björk, how can the most ardent fans keep up ?

Even musical chart-toppers know it’s not smart to saturate the market. So why does Björk, a marginal musical figure, an Icelandic enigma, think she can ? Remember, the woman has chutzpah.

At a recent concert at New York’s Coney Island (one of nine shows this summer, all of which sold out within minutes), Björk delivered an explosive show, mesmerizing for its theatrical bombast and sparks— literally.

Fireworks exploded over the ocean, crackling above the wooden carnival rides as Björk’s cinematic tunes crescendoed. Björk, elfin and adorable, commanded a string octet, a harpist and a duo of electronic wizards through a magical hour and 40-minute set.

Still fuzzy on Björk’s appeal ?

Her range is astounding. Live, she perfected a silky whisper and remixed older songs into pulse-racing, frenetic techno numbers that had the stadium shaking.

In her music videos, documented on her Greatest Hits—Volumen 1993-2003 collection, Björk is playful, sexy and mysterious. Of all the releases, the compilation best characterizes the singer, highlighting songs from all facets of her career. It also scores points for spunky innovation.

The 21-video collection will perplex and amuse. Björk transforms into a catlike critter in Hunter. The Spike Jonze-directed It’s In Our Hands captures Björk cavorting in the forest, a creature of the night.

And Björk ruled the night in Coney Island. Surrounded by fans, silent in absolute deference, she debuted a song called Desired Constellation from her next studio album. Against its muted electronic backdrop, lullabylike, Björk sang, “With a palm full of stars, I shake them like dice, repeatedly, and I throw them on the table.”

The lyrics, cryptic and slight, are the key to Björk’s appeal. She holds the elements in her hand, hostage to her whim. Björk dominates. She soars and takes her fans along.

Brian Orloff

publié dans St. Petersburg Times - 12.09.2003

 

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