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Go to the Björk website  Björk - Vespertine [One Little Indian - 2001]

Buy this CD now!
Björk has always been a little different from other pop music artists. "Vespertine", her first new album in four years time proves this again. After great albums such as "Debut" and "Homogenic" and her role as Selma in the movie "Dancer In The Dark", plus the additional album "Selmasongs", it has been awfully quiet around Björk. But in the mean time she has been working on new material and now it has been released it's up to me to write a somewhat informative review about it. So here we go:

On "Vespertine" Björk is more experimental than ever before. The poppy Icelandic folk songs have been replaced by thick-layered electronic and avant-garde laptop sounds constructed around her unique voice. The collaborations with experimental beat programmers such as Thomas Knak, Matthew Herbert, Matmos and Console, who also have helped in writing some of the tracks, produce an exceptional sound that is way beyond mainstream "pop" music. On this album even samples of the experimental German sound artists Oval are used, in the track "Unison", which is the last song of the album. Music box sounds seem to be another favourite of Björk, too.

Still, the main aspect of her music is not the electronic sounds but her voice, aided by carefully placed string arrangements, choirs (more Björks) and orchestrations. Perfect examples of this are "Hidden Place", the album's first single and "It's Not Up To You". The latter contains beautiful clavichord and harp compositions by Guy Sigsworth and Zeena Parkins respectively. The easy and poppy tracks are stylish alternated with more experimental and silent songs, such as "Cocoon", "Frosti" and "An Echo, A Stain", on which her voice is almost whisperingly singing. On "Aurora" however, one of my personal favourites, shows Björk's dynamic vocals in full range, making it a moving strong tune.

For Björk, the lyrics have always been an important part of her works. Of course every individual will interpret these different, but I like to say some words on it nevertheless. In some way she manages to write poems containing something that is folk-influenced (taking some lines from E.E. Cummings' old poems) but create a sensually and sexually charged atmosphere. She seems to hide some secret personal story in the lyrics as well, something that is too difficult for the reader to determine, but an interesting reading anyway.

This might as well be Björk's best album to date. The fact that it has an enormous growing potential makes it even better, and even the reviewer (who has been playing this disc constantly before writing this down) might not have experienced "Vespertine" to the greatest extent. The gap between Björk's previous albums might be not as big as some expected, and the regular Björk fan will not find many surprises. It relies on the current modern electronic sounds instead, and it will probably not be as groundbreaking as "Post" or "Homogenic". Still this piece of music is highly recommended.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Justin Faase
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