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Volta

Björk

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iTunes Review

Timbaland, Antony Hegarty, Malian kora player Toumani Diabate, and an all-female 10-piece Icelandic brass section join Bjork, alongside a series of computer-intensive sonic edits, electronically manipulated atmospheres, and 19th century Russian poetry featured in a 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film. Bjork doesn’t aim small and she doesn’t work along predictable lines. (The album’s list of recording sites reads like a Fodor’s Guide to the Northern Hemisphere). The Timbaland productions (“Earth Intruders,” “Innocence”) are the closest she comes to convention and that’s only because the beats are consistent enough for a dancefloor. But even here, it’s more perception than reality. Once inside the beat, Bjork sings her way out of the artificial restraints until she’s back in her free-floating galaxy. Her textures are often sparse, threatening to collapse around her, as found sound interrupts the music-box intimacy (“I See Who You Are”). Her sweeping emotionalism becomes a battle of empathy between her and guest vocalist Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) for “The Dull Flame of Desire.” The suspenseful dramas that unfold suggest the soundtrack to a racy film-noir or at least a fast-paced video game (“Declare Independence”). Like much abstract art, you aren’t always sure what you’re looking at and knowing is probably beside the point. Though Bjork clearly uses her brain to filter the results, the music is meant to impact at gut level.

Customer Reviews

Just get on the boat, we're going on a little trip; so says Bjork

Normally in the best musical collaborations, 1+1=3. The two create a something brand new and exciting hopefully. Volta's equation is more like 1+1+1=2.75. Some have said that something is missing. Maybe that's being too harsh. But in comparison to the nuclear mindblow that was Homogenic and the clear as crystal Vespertine, Volta is unfocused. BUT, it's not meant to be a focused album. I think Bjork got tired of the idea of making concept albums altogether. Medulla was as conceptual as you can get right? Volta runs back and forth from tense, urgent sing-along pop rockers (Earth Intruders, Wanderlust, Declare Independence, Innocence) to some of the most loose-limbed and softly glowing peices she's ever done (I See Who You Are, Pneumonia, Dull Flame of Desire,). Bjork seems to have been bold enough to take whatever result she got from her collaborations and put them in to the album like a collage, and then said "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". This album has a little bit of conceptual string holding it together. Fog horns, the sound of rain on water, running water, and morse code interlude the tracks together. Keep an ear out for the morse code at the end of Wanderlust if you actually know morse code; it spells out the word "wanderlust". . beepbebeep beep. Lot's of instruments like the kora, pipa, and a ten peice brass section lend Volta a wonderful visceral feel. Except for the brass, the exotic intruments are limited to just one track each. I can't help but wish for a stronger fusion of the element used in this album though. It's like all the ingredients are there, but they are being served a la carte. The strength and pitch control of Bjork's voice streamrollers right over, and delicately though, all of this. Most of the songs are not lyrically complex. Instead, the vocals are built assymetrically around each track, for example on Pneumonia or Dull Flame of Desire. These are essentially built around very straight-forward melodies, but watch out, you'll find yourself in emotion locations you weren't expecting. This is a good thing. So it seems the lesson here is that, this little boat trip Bjork took us on was to remind us that we aren't fully alive until we get out there and do something. So what if you don't get to exactly where you wanted to go, you might end up someplace even better.

One of the Best!!!

I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about this album - but I think it's amazing! This album has the depth of Medulla but with the vibrant and out-landish sounds Bjork started with in 'Debut.' Wanderlust might be one of her best songs ever! Along the lines of Batchelorette, Wanderlust has a poetic line that is beautiful and truely satisfiying. 'Declare Independence' almost seems like a punk anthem - in a world where political boundries seem to mean nothing, it has a power and a drive that could be a sound track to the US political agenda. The experience and education of her past albums can be heard here too...Pneumonia seems like something from Vespertine, with haunting background sounds and simple, beautiful melody. Bjork's Volta lyrics are poetic and valid for our experiences in today's world - something that I haven't found in her past albums. And the rhythms!!! The rhythms and sounds that arise here are spectacular and offer even more evidence that Bjork can not, and should not, be classified with the normal music industry labels. Give this album a chance - I don't think you will be disappointed!

Necessary Voodoo

Volta was touted as Bjork's most commercial album before it was released- a return to a fun, poppy, dancy Bjork. Volta is not that. What Volta is, to my ears at least, is a sort of sifting through a lot of Bjork's more recent work. It has very quiet Vespertine moments (I see who you are), very visceral Medulla moments (the explosive grunts of Innocence), and provides further etude for the horn arrangements of Drawing Restraint 9. Volta is very experimental, and I'm sure it will be criticized for sounding a bit incomplete. However, Bjork is playing a lot with dissonance, and while it takes more than a few listens, songs like Vertebrae by Vertebrae and Dull Flame of Desire work themselves out of being messy, and provide memorable beauty. Those who want Debut, Post, or Homogenic, should listen to those still interesting albums. Volta is quite different. But for the casual but open-minded listener, songs like Earth Intruders and Declare Independence will provide quicker hits of fun.

Biography

Born: November 21, 1965 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Björk first came to prominence as one of the lead vocalists of the avant pop Icelandic sextet the Sugarcubes, but when she launched a solo career after the group's 1992 demise, she quickly eclipsed her old band's popularity. Instead of following in the Sugarcubes' arty guitar rock pretensions, Björk immersed herself in dance and club culture, working with many of the biggest names in the genre, including Nellee Hooper, Underworld, and Tricky. Debut, her first solo effort (except for an Icelandic-only...
Full Bio

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