Wednesday, May 23, 2007
After the experimental departures of Vespertine and Medulla, Bjork is back to her classic sound with VOLTA, her fantastic new CD. Volta features a 10-piece horn section that is used to great effect throughout, especially at the end of instant-favorite lead-off track "Earth Intruders," where the horns emulate ship fog horns of an Icelandic harbor. This leads into the beautiful "Wanderlust," which starts with the lyric I am leaving this harbour, Giving urban a farewell. At this point in the CD, I'm ready to take the journey with her.
"The Dull Flame of Desire" is next. Here Bjork duets with New York singer Antony. The song is a bit too long, and it has taken me a while to get used to Antony's strange voice, but overall it is a good, slow love song with smooth horns and wistful lyrics. Definitely a song that grows on you. "Innocence" picks up the pace with its catchy techno beat. Rarely of late has a CD--by anyone--started out with such an amazing quartet of songs. The sound is fresh, modern, and shows a re-invigorated Bjork.
After catching your breath from these four tracks, "I See Who You Are" will have you marvel at Bjork's downright ability to compose a song. It features Min Xiao-Fen on pipa, a traditional Chinese string instrument (like a sitar) that has to be heard to be appreciated. It's almost enough to inspire some air-pipa playing!
"Vertebrae By Vertebrae" and "Pneumonia" are next; they are good, solid filler tracks. "Hope" is next, and is one of my favorite songs on the CD. What's the lesser of two evils? Bjork ponders, as she muses on the state of the world, and what would drive a pregnant suicide bomber to commit an act of terror. She concludes with the thought Well I don't care, Love is all, I dare to drown To be proven wrong. The song ends with more harbor horns, before kicking into the foot-stomping "Declare Independence," a crunchy, techno song--the exact kind that I love from Bjork. This song, along with "Earth Intruders" and Post's "Army of Me" will easily keep my speedometer at 80 if I happen to have them on in my car while driving.
"My Juvenile" closes out the CD. Antony is featured again, though more subtlely. Bjork sings this song to her first child, whom she feels she may have let go too soon: Perhaps I set you too free, Too fast, Too young. Antony, singing in response as Bjork's son: But the intentions were pure. But the intentions were pure.
Bjork is probably the only recording artist left who is doing her own thing, not a slave to the whims and wants of a record company. She is a true artist who is only concerned with her art, and making the music that she wants, with whom she wants. There is not much of that left in the medium of rock music. Volta is a classic CD by a phenomenal artist.