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Bj÷rk - Med˙lla CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.55 | 102 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars And now 'Medulla', BJORK's difficult acapella child, the inevitable destination of her decade-long experimental journey, the place she pulled back from with her next album. Nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there.

PINK FLOYD once aspired to write an album called 'Household Objects' using found sounds. It strikes me, reading about that period between 'Dark Side of the Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here', that FLOYD were bored, struggling for ideas, and settled on an intellectual challenge, approaching the task from the outside in, and ultimately abandoning the project. With 'Medulla' BJORK assumes their mantle, penning and performing an album of sounds from the most intimate source, the larynx. Rather than collecting found sounds from the world around them, BJORK finds her sounds deep within. Puffs of breath, deep inhalations, her voice alternately rich and thin, close and far, conjure up the most intimate, self-revelatory music I've ever heard. This album is the sound of a soul stripped bare. She works from the inside out, and succeeds thereby where PINK FLOYD failed.

Much of this album, though, isn't at all pleasant. She's abandoned the sweet beauty of 'Vespertine', perhaps finding it too cloying on revisiting it, and substituted avant-garde arrangements such as on 'Ancestors', sounding like Princess Leia and the Ewoks. These do yield their treasures on repeated listens but, you know, I'm not convinced this is quite the masterpiece critics claimed. To my ear more effort has been put into mechanics than composition and, while I'm a fan of her voice, here she simply asks too much of it. Forty minutes of unleavened acapella wears out its welcome, and I don't have the stamina to listen to this album right through, though there are many individual highlights.

An album to appreciate, then, if not love, 'Medulla' is as avant-garde and challenging as anything by UNEXPECT or HENRY COW. Listen to this and the reason why this artist is on PA suddenly becomes clear. If you hanker for something different, start right here.

russellk | 4/5 |


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