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Bj÷rk - Med˙lla CD (album) cover

MED┌LLA

Bj÷rk

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 72 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Die hard Bjork addicts will eat this up... the rest of us....

'Medulla' is my first Bjork experience of an entire album. It was certainly different and interesting. The style is impossible to pin down. It is alternative to the max, and will scare off many music listeners. I had difficulty putting up with some of it but it is good to occasionally listen to something different to open up the ears and it is open to interpretation, which is never a bad thing. As long as the music is good, but the problem is here there is no real music. That in itself made me want to listen intensely. That doesn't mean I was entertained but I was certainly compelled by the high strangeness and dark layers of Bjork's world. Here are my opinions on some of the songs on 'Medulla'.

Pleasure Is All Mine features vocals and is a quiet beautiful way to begin things and restored my faith in what I was about to hear, despite what I had seen on late night MTV. Unfortunately, this beauty is short lived on subsequent tracks. This is the calm before the storm.

Where is the Line is horror prog. It is like the Residents with a female vocalist. The video clip is ultra disturbing featuring a bag lady that gives birth to this slime vomiting creature (Bjork) that rolls in the hay, licks itself of its petroleum jelly and vaseline covering, it screams bloody murder, and then hay showers down and a hay monster appears. Then it reverses as the lyrics are heard "I wanna come back" and the creature swallows its slime vomit, returns to inside the bag lady, the rebirth, and hay rains down covering them. Then hay monsters appear and consume the bag lady. What does it all mean? When Bjork sings about "my purse wide open, You ask again, I see you trying to, Cash into accounts, Everywhere" she means it represents a girl she used to know who spilled her money on everything she could put her hands on, and she said this herself in an interview once. But 'purse' could be a sexual representation and the creature could represent the newborn who is swallowed up by the greed of the world, that is like chaff or hay that disappears, like money. The music is as unsettling as the visuals in the infamous clip, complete with moans and high pitched wails chorally produced as Bjork repeats 'Where is the line with you, where is the liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine' in many tonal variations. You want it dark and disturbing, you got it! Not one to play late at night. So creepy it makes for compelling listening and great for conversations about the art of music and how far should an artist go.

V÷kurˇ is Icelandic chanting to minimalist noises. This had me spellbound for about a minute waiting for something to happen. The beauty of the piece is perhaps in the choral singing in the background. It goes on too long for it's own good.

Íll Birtan is short expressive experimentation using Bjork's multilayered vocals. The title means "all the brightness" in Icelandic. It is lyricless, full of gibberish. Bj÷rk has stated that the song is about her experience of overcoming her initial shyness while writing her first all- vocal album at the age of 18. To quote Bjork, "it's about trying to break through a wall for the light to shine in." I did not see the light

Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right) has a droning unsettling vibe with high pitched chimes and quite unpleasant sensations of keyboard squelches. Lots of bells, chimes and clockwork noises. Intriguing track and the film clip gives no clue as to what this is about. Bjork is in a weird costume made of little bells and she has some huskies and kids ringing bells in a wasteland environment. Just in time for Christmas in Iceland CD? Lyrics are weird, "She gave you back your crown and the golden ornaments". Perhaps these are the instruments being played here. The drums are synthetic sounds too. Lyrics are about "handing it over". Handing what over? Perhaps her sanity.

Submarine is more caterwauling and weird vocals. Bj÷rk stated that being pregnant with her daughter, ═sadˇra, influenced her album, particularly this song.

Desired Constellation sounds like Bjork is outside on a night walk singing sweetly to the moonlight. The lyrics are full of angst and there is a melancholy feel. Perhaps one of the more pleasant tracks on the album.

Oceania has lovely lyrics such as "Your sweat is salty". Oceania is one of the weirdest tracks with lots of choral voices like surreal Gregorian chants at times. Ancestors is like giving birth with multilayered wailings of Bjork to soak your brain into.

Mouth's Cradle is more acapella and weird effects to some even stranger lyrics. The song apparently is countering American racism and patriotism since the 911 attacks. It is very sad that's for certain. Bjork is reactionary to the extreme and the album is full of despair.

Triumph of a Heart is an acapella song, that is all vocals making up the instruments once again. This is downbeat music and acid fuelled dementia put to some dissonant melody. There is yodelling, beatboxing and growls to make the music as she wails over top in some kind of assembly of notes, but it is unpalatable. In the video clip Bjork wakes up next to a cat, attends a druggy party, gets wasted, falls in the street scratching her head, wakes in a field and then returns to her house on foot, gets picked up by the cat, it takes her home and she snogs it, cat grows to human size and they dance.

Conclusion. I now know why I can't stand Bjork. This album is evidence. Give me VDGG, Rush, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson or Yes anyday! At least they have music that can be listened to many times. I enjoyed researching what the album is about and Bjork's weirdness. But it is just a curio for my ears. Die hard Bjork addicts need only apply. They will love this as it's what she does; confounds the music world to the point that she must appear in the '1001 Albums you must hear before you die'. Well, I heard it, now I can move on.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |

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