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Björk - Vespertine CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.99 | 141 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars "Electronic folk music", said BJORK about 'Vespertine'. My understanding of folk music was that it wasn't a specific sound, but a method of preserving communal truths. On 'Vespertine' we can hear more of what it means to be human than in virtually any other place.

It's that, yes, but so much more than that. 'Vespertine' contains the essence of BJORK's gift to the world: finally, with sweet, ethereal music and that naive yet knowing voice she carves us up with beauty. Naive, for she sounds like a child; knowing, for she pens lyrics arresting in their frankness. In 'Cocoon' she sings, without any apology: He slides inside / half awake, half asleep / we faint back / into sleephood / when I wake up / the second time / in his arms / gorgeousness / he's still inside me... This is love, not pornography, a baring of her soul. How fortunate we are that there are some among us who can say things like this, can express the joys and the longings of being human, and make the result so compelling.

This fragile message is delivered with delicacy, BJORK employing harps, celestes, strings, clavichords and angelic choirs as her messengers. Gone are the overpowering glitch beats of '5 Years' from her previous album. Instead we get a succession of heavenly moments when the clouds of mundane humanity peel back and rays of pure bliss pour through like supernatural invaders. I point to the beauty of 'Hidden Place' with its Schoenbergian ascending melody in the chorus drenching us like a blessing; of 'Cocoon' and the unbearable sweetness of her breath-laden voice (to have someone sing like that of anyone else, with such intimacy, how can we not be moved?); of the choir in 'Aurora', the unbearable ache of estranged lovers in 'Unison' as the music and lyrics climax together... the simplicity, the beauty. There isn't a track here that does anything less than shine.

Aside from the beauty and humanity, I'm drawn back to this music because of its complete freedom from the cynicism engendered by the music industry. At this stage of their careers bands like PINK FLOYD had nothing left to write about but anger against their fans and the insides of hotel rooms, but BJORK has a keen eye and is never, ever afraid to tell us what she sees. God forbid - and I mean this - god forbid she was ever to meet me. I don't know if I could bear the scrutiny.

Many of the musicians on the pages of PA are journeymen, doomed by their narrow training and lack of imagination or honesty to repeat the sounds of their past. BJORK is an innovator, an experimenter, an artist, always reaching for more; and I for one am glad she is here, whether she sounds proggy or not.

russellk | 5/5 |


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