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Vespertine

Björk

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Album Review

After cathartic statements like Homogenic, the role of Selma in Dancer in the Dark, and the film's somber companion piece, Selmasongs, it's not surprising that Björk's first album in four years is less emotionally wrenching. But Vespertine isn't so much a departure from her previous work as a culmination of the musical distance she's traveled; within songs like the subtly sensual "Hidden Place" and "Undo" are traces of Debut and Post's gentle loveliness, as well as Homogenic and Selmasongs' reflective, searching moments. Described by Björk as "about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes," Vespertine's vocals seldom rise above a whisper, the rhythms mimic heartbeats and breathing, and a pristine, music-box delicacy unites the album into a deceptively fragile, hypnotic whole. Even relatively immediate, accessible songs such as "It's Not Up to You," "Pagan Poetry," and "Unison" share a spacious serenity with the album's quietest moments. Indeed, the most intimate songs are among the most varied, from the seductively alien "Cocoon" to the dark, obsessive "An Echo, A Stain" to the fairy tale-like instrumental "Frosti." The beauty of Vespertine's subtlety may be lost on Björk fans demanding another leap like the one she made between Post and Homogenic, but like the rest of the album, its innovations are intimate and intricate. Collaborators like Matmos — who, along with their own A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure, appear on two of 2001's best works — contribute appropriately restrained beats crafted from shuffled cards, cracking ice, and the snap-crackle-pop of Rice Krispies; harpist Zeena Parkins' melodic and rhythmic playing adds to the postmodernly angelic air. An album singing the praises of peace and quiet, Vespertine isn't merely lovely; it proves that in Björk's hands, intimacy can be just as compelling as louder emotions.

Customer Reviews

heaven

if heaven could speak it would sound like vespertine vespertine breaths down from the clouds perfection

Bjork's Swan Song

After the swan dress, it was a general decision by most Americans that Iceland bred some crazy creatures, the most of which is the fowl-gowned Bjork. And as far-out as her actions and evening wear may be, her music is a breath of fresh air. Vespertine, her fourth studio album, is her best to date. "Hidden Place" will knock you upside the head, "Cocoon" will make you curious, and by "It's Not Up to You", you're hooked. Her vocals seem supernatural and are obviously not from around here, but on her softer-spoken moments ("Undo"), you realize her impeccable taste for mood and effect. And she hits the mark every time on this album. Bjork is truly one of the great modern musical visionaries, and nothing shows off her talent like Vespertine. A truly great album.

Intimate and Revealing

This is one of Bjork's best albums and it was the only one missing from my collection. It makes perfect sense now, it certainly was the missing piece from Bjork's puzzling music. She was already experimenting with voice, which came full circle in the album Medulla, and she was in a more quiet mood - her album before this was Selmasongs, so what more could come from storm than bonanza? (by storm I mean emotional storm, since the role of Selma caused quite a stir in the artist's psyche). It's a very quiet and intimate album, "Hidden Place" being one of my favorites. It just astounishes me how can someone be so creative an free herself like this. She doesn't limit herself; she let's go. This is why I believe Bjork is a true artist like few are today. If you are looking to relax, let go and be creative, this is the album for you.

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