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Björk - Vespertine CD (album) cover

VESPERTINE

Björk

 

Crossover Prog

3.96 | 91 ratings

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catfood03
4 stars Of all of Bjork's musical output so far I rank the collection of songs on VESPERTINE are amongst her very best. "Magical" seems like a cliched description to attach on music like this, but for VESPERTINE it is as appropriate a word than any other musical experience I can think of. The percussive elements are as fragile as snowflakes and many of the songs are backed by choirs that augment the beautiful melodies Bjork has written for this record, adding an angelic levity to many key tracks. In comparison with her other works VESPERTINE is quite restrained, but it is far from dull.

In description it seems unlikely that a vocalist of Bjork's emotional range and singing technique could fit comfortably in this environment, and yet she does so quite seamlessly, with little restraint on her part. When she does channel her vocals inward, as on the gentle "Harm of Will", or the charming "Cocoon" (where her giddy declaration of a schoolgirl's crush barely rises above a breathy whisper), the results are as memorable as the extroverted "Pagan Poetry" and "It's Not Up To You".

This latest packaging of VESPERTINE (Surrounded) is offered in "Dual Disc" format. One side is the original CD without any bonus material, and the other is a DVD side with the same music in 'surround" mix plus the promotional videos for this record. (I can't comment on the value of these new "surround" mixes, as I don't have the stereo set-up to experience it yet). Because the disc contains playable material on both sides there is only room for a small white circle on the disc's hub for which side is up.

The visuals of the promoted singles on the DVD section are all very imaginative and has a collective theme of the organic, or specifically, the human body. In "Hidden Place" bodily fluids continuously caress the surface of Bjork's face. The abstracted images of body piercing found in "Pagan Poetry" makes for perhaps her most provocative video yet. Similarly strange is "Cocoon" where Bjork dances with red ribbon sprouting from her own body. She plays a pixie-sized tour guide through the deep woods for "It's In Our Hands". In "Nature is Ancient", on which she doesn't appear on-screen, witnesses copulation and gestation among creatures of a microscopic level.

To have the videos packaged together with the music is a special treat, yet there were missed opportunities to truly make this an ultimate fan's treasure. For one, a revamped booklet with additional promo photos would have been ideal, as the booklet is the same as the original release (if I remember correctly, from a friend's copy). Another unfortunate omission was not including as extra tracks the songs that were thinly distributed as b-sides among the various VESPERTINE singles. Still, if you're considering adding VESPERTINE to your collection then this is the version you will want to get.

catfood03 | 4/5 |

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