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Björk - Volta CD (album) cover

VOLTA

Björk

 

Crossover Prog

2.58 | 46 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars "Volta" is Bjork's decline in quality after some extremely poor efforts, yet I was really getting into the style on some of the earlier albums. The inconsistency of the material is the problem, some high moments are marred by dreadful moments.

'Earth Intruders' opens the album with robotic rhythms and Bjork's processed vocals "we are the Earth Intruders" heard over and over. It is an up tempo song that starts the album well enough. It has a wonderful ending that sounds like a fleet of ships in the fog sounding off their horns to one another. I like this experimental side of Bjork as long as she contains the weirdness in actual songs and, unlike "Medulla" Bjork is experimental but still utilises very compelling musical arrangements.

The bass synth percussions and brass overwhelm 'Wanderlust' which has Bjork's raw vocals crying out passionately. This one also has an unusual ending with monotone honking horns and eeries whispers over an ocean effect.

The majestic brass sound opens 'The Dull Flame of Desire" and Bjork sings "I love your eyes, my dear, they're splendid sparkling fire". Her sentiments are echoed by a decent singer Anthony Hegarty, from Anthony & The Johnsons, with a voice odd in itself. The duet is quite pleasant at first but goes on too long and Anthony begins to grate on my nerves after a while.

Odd industrial rhythms power 'Innocence' along reminding me of "Homogenic" or earlier Bjork. It is okay showing the experimental Bjork, but not as compelling as others on the album. 'I See Who You Are' has an Oriental sound and quiet Bjork vocals "I see who you are behind the skin and the muscle." This front end vocal is always intimate and certainly the Japanese influences are prevalent on this track. I find it all a bit dull after a while as it just plods along slowly and doesn't progress.

We return to howling wind, oceans and brass on 'Vertebrae by Vertebrae'. Bjork's measured vocals are interesting and I kind of like the odd off sync percussion and nautical atmospheres. I am quite at a loss though as to whether this is a concept album or not as at times it has similar atmospherics but it is not consistent. The lack of melody is a yawnfest and I have trouble listening to this lengthy repetition.

It seems that repetition and no melody is the new Bjork on this album. Yes, there is music, unlike most of "Medulla" but it lacks coherence. 'Pneumonia' is just a brass section and Bjork's almost improvising a rhythmic vocal. Again, the melody is fractured and hard to hook into, and this goes on far too long. 'Hope' returns to Japanese Oriental music and Bjork's voice moving all over the scale, never locking into a melody. It really is too much for me to withstand, and this is becoming a slog now at this stage to get through. Honestly it is fast becoming the worst Bjork album, and a total disappointment after I was beginning to like her on albums such as "Vespertine", "Homogenic" and "Debut".

'Declare Independence' is experimental with fuzzing sonic deep bass, and Bjork emphatically stating "declare independence don't let them do that to you, start your own currency, make your own stamp, protect your language." I like this especially the electronic fuzz and minimalist approach. Bjork sounds like Toyah and I love that style so this is my favourite on the album. When she sings "raise your flag higher" it sounds even more like Toyah; a great innovative song from Bork.

After this 'My Juvenile' ends this album with nice harp chimes, similar to the work on "Vespertine". The emotional piano crashes are augmented by breathy ice vocals, "down the corridor ice and warmth, down the staircase ice and warmth". This ethereal song ends the album on a very downbeat note but it is a nice song, with lots of creative music, and Anthony returns to add some vocals.

Overall, this is a disappointing album, as Bjork attempts to capture some of the style of "Homogenic" and retain the experimental avant garde of "Medulla" but fails on every level. It has some conceptual transitions, fog horns, boats on a sea and nautical effects, and then at other times opts for a Japanese approach, and none of it gels together or makes any sense as a whole album. It is the worst Bjork album thus far, a failed experiment she would never return to, patchy and inconsistent, with only a few tracks to save it from complete disaster.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |

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