label: wea / elektra
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
releases have seen the eccentric Icelandic star recording music
in public toilets and adding vocals deep inside an echoing cave.
But on Vespertine, her fourth solo album, she swaps the
earthly sounds and adopts an ethereal, heavenly approach that
gives the CD a different kind of beauty than that enjoyed by Debut,
Post and Homogenic.
celeste, surreal harmonies, backing choirs and angelic percussion
have all been hinted at before, not least in her early Icelandic
jazz recording Gling Glo, but they have never been so intense
as on Vespertine, a collection of 12 mature and well crafted
single, "Hidden Place," is typical of the album in general
in that it takes its time, is hypnotic and dares to enter territory
that most mainstream artists would not feel comfortable in. Heavenly
bells can be heard on the instrumental "Frosti," a brilliantly
atmospheric chorus on "It's Not Up To You" and visual
images pop into your head when listening to "Aurora"
that could place you right in her homeland watching the Northern
her first solo release since the critically acclaimed Homogenic
in 1997, has a literal meaning relating to the evening, and the
theme of dark nights in a cozy, comfortable place is the theme
that Bjork has tried to explore here.
"The album's very much about being alone in your house in
a very quiet, introverted mood."
To this end,
she succeeds. Vespertine is a great album to be locked
away with when you're feeling low or wanting to relax in peace
and quiet. But the focus on the extremities of Bjork's ethereal
qualities also means that previous "pop" moments like
"Army Of Me," "It's Oh So Quiet" and "Human
Behaviour" are shut out for good, lost in time. This is a
different Bjork, an even more eccentric one, if that could be
In the time
between this and her last solo work, Bjork's success has continued
as she switched attention to acting in her big screen debut, Dancer
In The Dark. A remarkable film, it earned her an Oscar nomination
awards at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as another successful
album in the Selma Songs soundtrack. In fact, the artwork
for the album cover features an etching of the infamous swan that
first appeared with Bjork when she turned up at this year's Oscars
Now having lost some of
her cockney accent but still sounding like an alien who has landed
and is yet to master the art of regional dialogue, it is easy
to wonder how Bjork has got where she has by producing the far-out,
individual music that has seen her arrive at Vespertine.
The answer is that Bjork is a musical genius who puts her visions
and dreams before critical success or album sales, and this is
a quality evident on all her CDs. Every project Bjork touches
turns to gold, and this is no exception.
3. It's Not Up to You
5. Pagan Poetry
8. An Echo a Stain
9. Sun in My Mouth
11. Harm of Will