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Björk - Homogenic CD (album) cover

HOMOGENIC

Björk

 

Crossover Prog

3.82 | 165 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Bjork's one peculiar kitty. If you don't concur I suggest you take a gander at this record's cover shot. 'Nuff sed. I finally started investigating her music earlier this year and I'm working my way through a big chunk of her catalog album by album. An acquired taste, perhaps, but boring she's not. She's totally unlike 99% of the female vocalists on this planet and dares to go where others of both genders fear to tread. Thus, for a progger like myself who likes to be aurally challenged, she intrigues me with her boldness and unabashed risk-taking tendencies. Her "Debut" disc piqued my interest and her "Post" record was exhilarating in places so I was expecting great things from "Homogenic."

She opens with the sly "Hunter." A throbbing bass and staccato electronic snare effect lead to a Bolero-ish pattern that underscores Bjork's decidedly unconventional voice and affectations. "Joga" follows and it's a highlight of the CD. A string section combined with rhythmic industrial machinations create an odd dichotomy but it's what I've come to expect from this Icelandic waif and, in this instance, it works splendidly. "Unravel" is next and it, too, marks an apex of the proceedings. Deep, dark background music lopes along like a wounded behemoth while Bjork mingles two or three separate vocal tracks together imaginatively throughout. The song streams into "Bachelorette," a roiling mass of emotion reminiscent of what Peter Gabriel was into on his shadowy "Up" album. In fact, seeing as how this record came out years before that disc did, it's no stretch to believe that Mr. Gabriel was heavily influenced by the liquid nature of this tune in particular. It's richly orchestrated and dynamic from beginning to end. "All Neon Like" is a giant step away from the norm. A repetitive synthesizer-generated percussion loop drives this number that displays few definable chords. Instead, Bjork warbles over various individual melody patterns and it's not the first time she's been this adventurous.

"5 Years" is a step down. The white noise beats she employs hints that perhaps she'd spent a little too much time listening to Nine Inch Nails' experimental singles. Volatile stuff like this needs to be tempered with a lot of restraint. What's disappointing is that at this juncture things are growing a bit tedious and over-indulgent to my ears. As if responding to my complaint, Bjork then presents "Immature," one of her jazzier compositions in this batch that provides the listener with a nice change of pace. She also throws in a few of her unique animal growls that are always a pleasant surprise. "Alarm Call" follows wherein a funky undertow motivates this plodding rocker well but its heavy-handedness is slightly unnerving, even to these aging, jaded ears. Yet I gotta admit that her extraordinary singing style is what never fails to keep me engaged no matter what the accompanying music happens to be doing. "Pluto" is next. It's an up-tempo techno dance number featuring jazz-hued psychedelic incidentals interspersed here and there that turn this thing into the weirdest cut on the album. I can't help but wonder what the label honchos thought of this bizarre piece. She ends with "All is Full of Love." An arrhythmic electronic pulse wafts in and out of a fog bank of cosmic aural scenery while Bjork multitracks competing vocal lines atop the strange concoction. It's really hard for me to draw a bead on what she was trying to convey with this song and it occurs to me that it's just something that just took on a life of its own in the studio.

"Homogenic" is no dog but what I wasn't anticipating was an album so drenched in electronica and trip hop colorings. There are two things about it I miss from her previous releases. (1) Her willingness to provide a wide palate of genres and (2) her lack of playfulness this time around. Maybe the latter was due to the unfortunate suicide of a disturbed man who stalked her relentlessly. His tragic act generated a lot of unwanted publicity for her, so much so that she had to escape to Spain to make this record. No doubt that commotion affected her overall outlook and made her even more introspective than ever. Released on September 22, 1997, "Homogenic" sold fairly well, reaching the #4 spot on the UK charts and a respectable #28 in the states. I've noticed that some critics consider this disc to be a landmark in electronic music and, far from being an expert in that territory, I won't argue with their glowing assessment. However, for me it's not as entertaining as what came before. Still, I'm eager to see where she went from here. 3 stars.

Chicapah | 3/5 |

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