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BJÖRK

Crossover Prog • Iceland


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Björk biography
Björk Guðmundsdóttir is a singer/songwriter from Iceland, who has been both loved and hated during her long and multifaceted career. Writing and recording music since the '70s, she's become the face of her country and known to the whole world. Her music varies from new wave punk to experimental pop and even trip-hop and progressive pop. She has also composed music to movies and musicals and has also acted in several. There's no doubt Björk is one of the most influential female artists of modern music scene.

Björk recorded her first solo album in 1977 when she was only 11 years old. The album was simply named Björk, a collection of cover songs except for one that was her own composition. She quickly decided, that children's main stream was not what she wanted to do. Then soon, in the late '70s punk and new wave hit Iceland, and Björk as well. She was a singer in a group called Jam 80, which soon changed into Tappi Tikarrass, a band, that didn't concentrate on playing but mostly experimenting with instruments. Having recorded one record, the band broke up and the new
wave started to fade. Björk performed in a jazz band and recorded some songs with best known Icelandic musicians. Then she joined a supergroup of performers called Kukl.

Kukl recorded one album and did a tour in England, after which all of the musicians were so tired they had to take a long vacation. This offered Björk a chance to try out something else than punk or dark rock music. Kukl recorded one more album and toured with other punk bands after which they broke up in 1986. Later that year she recorded a duet with Gudlaugur Ottarsson, which was to mandate her first real solo album Debut. The musicians of Kukl kept in touch however, and in 1987 a label called Bad Taste was born. Under this label was soon to develop a band called Sugarcubes.

At 19 Björk made her acting debut in Nietzcha Keenes The Juniper Tree, and after 13 years she performed in Lars von Tiers Dancer in the Dark, after which she swore not to act ever again because of the emotionally stress of standing in someone else's shoes. Meanwhile Sugarcubes had become extremely successful, gaining one record as the single of week in 1987. The idea behind the band was to play through all the cliches they could put into pop-music. Apparently this was what the public wanted. The band was offered huge amounts of money for publishing rights, but they decided to take the joke further and signed in to a small unde...
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BJÖRK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BJÖRK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.77 | 15 ratings
Björk Guðmundsdóttir
1977
2.70 | 22 ratings
Gling-Gló
1990
3.53 | 128 ratings
Debut
1993
3.52 | 109 ratings
Post
1995
3.81 | 145 ratings
Homogenic
1997
3.23 | 47 ratings
Selmasongs: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Dancer In The Dark'
2000
4.01 | 121 ratings
Vespertine
2001
3.56 | 90 ratings
Medúlla
2004
1.62 | 18 ratings
The Music From Drawing Restraint 9
2005
2.79 | 56 ratings
Volta
2007
3.39 | 42 ratings
Biophilia
2011
3.60 | 41 ratings
Vulnicura
2015

BJÖRK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.10 | 10 ratings
Debut Live
2004
4.22 | 9 ratings
Post Live
2004
4.42 | 12 ratings
Homogenic Live
2004
4.23 | 13 ratings
Vespertine Live
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
Vulnicura Live
2016

BJÖRK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.32 | 6 ratings
Volumen
1999
4.07 | 5 ratings
Live in Cambridge
2001
2.67 | 6 ratings
Live at Shepherds Bush Empire
2001
3.37 | 11 ratings
MTV Unplugged - MTV Live
2002
4.78 | 17 ratings
Vespertine Live at Royal Opera House
2002
3.22 | 4 ratings
Volumen Plus
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
Glastonbury - Live In England 2007
2014

BJÖRK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Mixes From The Album Debut For All The People Who Don't Buy White Labels
1994
3.33 | 9 ratings
Telegram
1996
3.78 | 12 ratings
Greatest Hits
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Family Tree
2002
4.47 | 8 ratings
Voltaïc
2009
3.25 | 4 ratings
Bastards
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
Vulnicura Strings
2015

BJÖRK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Bachelorette Two
1997
4.00 | 2 ratings
Celebrating Wood And Metal
1997
3.50 | 2 ratings
Björk Live
2002
4.00 | 2 ratings
All Is Full Of Björk
2002

BJÖRK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Björk Guðmundsdóttir by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1977
1.77 | 15 ratings

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Björk Guðmundsdóttir
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars BJÖRK Guðmundsdóttir was destined for great things at an early age. She was already studying classical piano and flute at the tender age of six and caught the attention of her school teachers when she sang a Tim Charles' hit called "I Love To Love." Her teachers sent it to the only radio station in Iceland at the time and they loved it. So at the age of 12 years old all the way back in 1977 she was asked to record a full album of mostly covers but also contains three originals. This is one of those anomalies that was never released outside of her native Iceland but remains a curiosity in her discography since her next solo album ironically called "Debut" wouldn't be released until 1993.

Starting out with some sitars, the listening is left wondering if the wrong album is playing! Is this BJÖRK or Ravi Shankar? After the intro the album bursts into the expected radio friendly pop music with a disco beat. This is basically a bunch of catchy tunes with a tweenie BJÖRK singing her heart out in Icelandic. While some of the tracks could qualify as pop, some are more classical allowing her flute playing abilities to shine but the craziest track on board is a cover of The Beatles' "Fool On The Hill" or in Icelandic "Álfur Út Úr Hól"

Not as bad as i expected actually. BJÖRK already displays at a very young age incredible control of her vocals and the music itself is actually decently done, however somehow i suspect this won't be replacing "Homogenic" or "Vespertine" as her most respected albums any time soon. A rarity outside of her native land, but a catchy and cheery relic of her past that is of interest to the hard core fans. Ultimately BJÖRK was asked to record a second album but refused opting to write her own material that she would save for future releases including with her 80s punk band Spit And Snot.

 Gling-Gló by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.70 | 22 ratings

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Gling-Gló
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Tucked away in her career amidst her days with The Sugarcubes and after her post-punk heyday with Kuki, the Icelandic diva BJÖRK released the most unusual anomaly of her career with the unpronounceable BJÖRK GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR & TRÍÓ GUÐMUNDAR INGÓLFSSONAR. Their sole album release as a quartet (yes it was she plus three) was titled GLING-GLÓ which is the Icelandic onomatopoeia version of "Ding Dong" which signifies the sound a bell makes. This release shows a new side of BJÖRK displaying to the world that she was more than a one trick pony. Well, maybe a two trick pony. She did have that kitschy disco pop album at the age of 11 which is virtually unknown outside of her native Iceland. The project started when Guðmundar Ingólfssonar was commissioned by the Icelandic State Radio to record a set of popular instrumental standards and the trio felt it would be infinitely better with a vocalist performing in the native Icelandic language and who else could have filled the bill better than BJÖRK herself who had already put the country on the map musically with her success with The Sugarcubes.

First of all, keep in mind that GLING-GLÓ is mostly sung in Icelandic and was meant to be for an Icelandic audience where it actually did quite well. The majority of the tracks are short but sweet jazz standards focusing on the virtues of vocal jazz but also incorporating a bit of hard bop, Mexican salsa and even Icelandic folk into the mix. There are, however, a couple of songs sung in English at the end of the album. The instrumentation includes BJÖRK on vocals and harmonica, Guðmundur Ingólfsson on piano and tambourine, Guðmundur Steingrímsson on drums, maracas and Christmas bells and Þórður Högnason on bass. Despite BJÖRK being an afterthought to the project, she had a major part in the whole development process and was responsible for selecting the setlist and had her input into the creative process from the get go. She displays her usual role as band leader with her brash and bold vocalizations which in her native tongue give a sense of her roots.

This one is actually a pretty decent set of songs to enjoy. No, this will hardly blow you away if you foam at the mouth every time you hear "Homogenic" or "Vespertine," however there is a nice purity to this one where all the musicians on board are wholeheartedly focused on creating a certain experience outside of themselves. The Icelandic language which is the closest current language to Old Norse is a very rhythmic language and to hear these standards from other artists ranging from obscure American composers of the early 20th century such as Nat Simon ("Luktar-Gvendur" ("Lantern-Gvendur")) to the Mexican salsa of Rablo Beltán Ruiz is quite exotic to the English speaking world indeed. While i would hardly call this album an essential BJÖRK album by any means, it does have a certain charm that works well as dinner music or for anyone interested in the Icelandic volcano goddess' earlier offerings. Everything is well performed and pleasant to the ears. I find this to be a notch above the pure "for collectors only" category and actually enjoy listening to this from time to time. Great dinner music that delivers the most giddy speakeasy feel of yesteryear.

 Homogenic by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.81 | 145 ratings

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Homogenic
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of the coolest things music can do is create aural "environments," ones that you feel as if you could enter despite being non-existent in reality. After all, in instances of escapism, isn't the point to escape from the real world for a while? The same goes for movies and video games; depending on the genre, creating a well-defined world for characters to interact is usually one of the most important assets of either medium. So, reader, imagine this if you will: imagine a world of isolation. Think of a cold environment that prefers darkness, but doesn't completely rule out light; the voice that hangs overhead simultaneously soars and whispers as the intensity of each location changes accordingly. You have just entered the world of Homogenic by Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork.

Homogenic was recorded during a period of reinvention for Ms. Guomundsdottir, both in musical style and image. Her first two solo albums after leaving The Sugarcubes (not counting her 1977 album, as it's labeled as juvenilia) proved to be successful commercially and critically, allowing her to build a strong fanbase from the get-go. Unfortunately, while working on her third effort back in her home in Britain, the infamous "Bjork stalker" Ricardo Lopez attempted to assassinate her with a mail bomb and then proceeded to kill himself. Overwhelmed with Lopez's death and the subsequent media coverage about the incident, Bjork moved to Malaga, Spain to have some privacy during the recording of Homogenic and relieve her stress. Homogenic is no doubt a dark reflection of these events, from the decidedly stoic-looking album cover to the isolation and coldness found in the songs. Along with that, it is also perhaps her finest and most mature effort to date.

In contrast to her previous two albums, which presented a very large array of different sounds and styles, Homogenic takes the theme of reclusiveness and lets it run through the entire experience. The bouncier atmosphere has now been replaced with something slower, more challenging, and definitely more reflective; the beats are more trip-hop-influenced, and the instrumentation puts a larger emphasis on string arrangements than before. In fact, it wouldn't be farfetched to say that this album integrates a pretty large amount of baroque pop into its sound. Luckily, just like with her past efforts, the songwriting variety is still present in spades; no song sounds alike despite sharing the same emotional weight, and the instrumentation always reflects what lyricism or atmosphere is being represented. There's still a fair share of more upbeat numbers tempo-wise, such as the aggressive and distorted "dance" (using that a bit loosely) number "Pluto" or the classically-influenced "Bachelorette," but even they don't escape the chilly isolation experienced with each song on the album. Remember how I mentioned musical "environments" earlier? They apply to this album in the best possible way. As dark and intense as the atmosphere of this album is, the way Bjork's voice, the combination of synthesizers/samples/strings, and of course the dark lyrical content combine, makes it really intriguing to listen to nonetheless. "Joga"'s probably the best example of this, with the string section being used to the greatest effect; an intro of lush (yet still depressing and dark) orchestration sets the tone for Bjork's powerful soaring voice to reach its climax during the prechorus and chorus, creating both a chilling and exciting experience. "All is Full of Love" opts to drop the beats out altogether, just creating an intimacy between the growing dynamics of the instrumentation and Bjork's impressive vocal abilities.

Speaking of which, "All is Full of Love" is perfectly placed at the end of the album, representing a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Admittedly, the music can sometimes be pretty fun to listen to as well, despite contrasting with bleak lyrical content. "5 Years" is almost frustratingly catchy, between a repetitive descending succession of synthesizer chords during the verses and the swinging beat that anchors things together. "Alarm Call" has a similarly catchy beat almost reminiscent of something that would be in funk music, while "Hunter" opens the entire album up in a totally different fashion; rather than being catchy or upbeat, it actually ends up being one of the bleakest songs and one of the most accurate representations of what tone Bjork was going for on this album. Something that this album has that some of her albums lack, however, is a perfect stylistic balance. The record is dark and isolated, but there's just enough optimism and exploration to keep you interested; there's never too much of either, and the instrumentation follows suit by shifting dynamics and rhythms at all the right locations. The biggest strengths of this album are its focus and consistency, most likely attributed to keeping most of it devoted to a certain specific musical "flavor"; everything is just tied together very nicely.

In the end, Homogenic is not just an album; it's a journey. Bjork has crafted an electronic/trip-hop masterpiece alongside the likes of DJ Shadow's ...Endtroducing, Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and Portishead's album Dummy; some even consider it one of the best and most influential albums of the 90s. While the latter could be up for debate, I'd contend that the former is true for sure. Let's face it: if you're a Bjork fan, you probably own this or have listened to it already; if you haven't though, make sure you experience this magic for yourself. It's one of this lady's most wonderful achievements.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 Vulnicura by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.60 | 41 ratings

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Vulnicura
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Musically Vulnicura sounds like a sort of missing link between Homogenic and Vespertine. Instrumentally it links closer to the former, featuring mainly orchestral stings arranged by Bjork as well as electronics, with certain sections boasting abrasive and almost industrial sounding percussion. Composition-wise though, these songs tend to veer towards Vespertine with its intimate approach and deeply personal atmosphere.

What sets this album in its own league is its theme, which plays out somewhat like the foreshadowing of a relationship break-up, the fruition of this fear and its aftermath. I wouldn't say that Vulnicura is a complete drear- fest, but when certain songs hit, they hit hard on an emotional level, particularly in regards to the 10 minute "Black Lake", powerful number that pulls no punches in describing heartache and anguish both musically and lyrically.

The first half of this release contains many of the best tunes I've heard from her in over a decade. Despite the trauma and uncertainty in the storyline she conveys, these songs are quite memorable with lush instrumentation and magical vocal melodies. "Lionsong", in particular contains infectious melodies while retaining an unusual aura that is far removed from anything resembling typical pop music. It's really not a pop album at all, with numerous extended song lengths and strong digressions from 'safe' musical formats. Yet despite the experimental approach, it's still as enjoyable as it is adventurous. The latter half is where things get even more interesting musically, with forays into avant-garde territory and more bizarre electronic percussion melding into the overall sound. "Mouth Mantra" is one such number that offers some real surprises such as that vicious booming low bass that kicks in for a spell during its latter half that's practically 'metallic' in nature.

The first time I heard this album it was practically a heart-wrenching experience in a way, as Bjork carries her well written lyrics with an emotional punch I haven't heard from her in quite some time. So well does she convey the theme, that I only started noticing certain music tracks on subsequent listens, so involved in this work as a whole as I was initially. While it doesn't reach the stratospheric booming heights of Homogenic or the celestial euphoria of Vespertine, it does have its own identity as a strong personal statement and I would rank it pretty close to her best work.

 Volta by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.79 | 56 ratings

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Volta
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Bjork-Volta

'Volta' is the seventh studio album by Icelandic experimental musician Bjork.

Bjork is one of those musicians that really can't be placed under any one genre of music. She has combined rock, jazz, trip-hop, ambient, techno, industrial, and who knows what else. Because of this, I've always seen her as avant-garde or experimental. I grew up listening to her albums 'Debut', 'Post', and 'Homogenic', but I didn't get this album until about a year ago. With that, I must say this is one eclectic release.

The album opens with the pulsing tribal beats of 'Earth Intruders'. I love the atmosphere of this song, there is a lot of different experimentation with the electronics here. From droning to menacing effects, the electronics are very strong. Bjork's vocals are also very strong on this track. The song ends with boat horns and other noises, ending the song on a pretty odd note. 'Innocence' is another highlight, which begins with what sounds like a guy getting punched in the face. The beats in this song feel like a punch in the face, pulsing throughout. 'Vertebrae by Vertebrae' is an interesting song, starting out feeling like a film score. Later some electronic sounds come in, making it sound a bit different. 'Hope' is a unique track, containing tribal drumming and a clavichord into a surprisingly good mix. My favorite on the album is undeniably the droning 'Declare Independence' This song uses distortion perfectly, it soon developing a melody to it. Once the pounding beats come in, it immediately becomes a real headbanger. Bjork's vocals are very raw and it's awesome when she screams 'Declare Independence, Don't let them do that to you'. I love the lyrics on this one too.

Those are the highlights, but I like most of the songs on the album. The only songs I don't like are 'The Dull Flame of Desire' and 'My Juvenile', not only do I not usually like ballads, but I really don't like Antony Hegarty's vocals. He sounds like a lounge singer, making these duets sound incredibly cheesy.

Overall, I find this to be one of Bjork's best albums along with 'Homogenic' and 'Debut'. I highly recommend this album for anyone who wants something different and something that is very eclectic.

 Homogenic by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.81 | 145 ratings

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Homogenic
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Bjork's one peculiar kitty. If you don't concur I suggest you take a gander at this record's cover shot. 'Nuff sed. I finally started investigating her music earlier this year and I'm working my way through a big chunk of her catalog album by album. An acquired taste, perhaps, but boring she's not. She's totally unlike 99% of the female vocalists on this planet and dares to go where others of both genders fear to tread. Thus, for a progger like myself who likes to be aurally challenged, she intrigues me with her boldness and unabashed risk-taking tendencies. Her "Debut" disc piqued my interest and her "Post" record was exhilarating in places so I was expecting great things from "Homogenic."

She opens with the sly "Hunter." A throbbing bass and staccato electronic snare effect lead to a Bolero-ish pattern that underscores Bjork's decidedly unconventional voice and affectations. "Joga" follows and it's a highlight of the CD. A string section combined with rhythmic industrial machinations create an odd dichotomy but it's what I've come to expect from this Icelandic waif and, in this instance, it works splendidly. "Unravel" is next and it, too, marks an apex of the proceedings. Deep, dark background music lopes along like a wounded behemoth while Bjork mingles two or three separate vocal tracks together imaginatively throughout. The song streams into "Bachelorette," a roiling mass of emotion reminiscent of what Peter Gabriel was into on his shadowy "Up" album. In fact, seeing as how this record came out years before that disc did, it's no stretch to believe that Mr. Gabriel was heavily influenced by the liquid nature of this tune in particular. It's richly orchestrated and dynamic from beginning to end. "All Neon Like" is a giant step away from the norm. A repetitive synthesizer-generated percussion loop drives this number that displays few definable chords. Instead, Bjork warbles over various individual melody patterns and it's not the first time she's been this adventurous.

"5 Years" is a step down. The white noise beats she employs hints that perhaps she'd spent a little too much time listening to Nine Inch Nails' experimental singles. Volatile stuff like this needs to be tempered with a lot of restraint. What's disappointing is that at this juncture things are growing a bit tedious and over-indulgent to my ears. As if responding to my complaint, Bjork then presents "Immature," one of her jazzier compositions in this batch that provides the listener with a nice change of pace. She also throws in a few of her unique animal growls that are always a pleasant surprise. "Alarm Call" follows wherein a funky undertow motivates this plodding rocker well but its heavy-handedness is slightly unnerving, even to these aging, jaded ears. Yet I gotta admit that her extraordinary singing style is what never fails to keep me engaged no matter what the accompanying music happens to be doing. "Pluto" is next. It's an up-tempo techno dance number featuring jazz-hued psychedelic incidentals interspersed here and there that turn this thing into the weirdest cut on the album. I can't help but wonder what the label honchos thought of this bizarre piece. She ends with "All is Full of Love." An arrhythmic electronic pulse wafts in and out of a fog bank of cosmic aural scenery while Bjork multitracks competing vocal lines atop the strange concoction. It's really hard for me to draw a bead on what she was trying to convey with this song and it occurs to me that it's just something that just took on a life of its own in the studio.

"Homogenic" is no dog but what I wasn't anticipating was an album so drenched in electronica and trip hop colorings. There are two things about it I miss from her previous releases. (1) Her willingness to provide a wide palate of genres and (2) her lack of playfulness this time around. Maybe the latter was due to the unfortunate suicide of a disturbed man who stalked her relentlessly. His tragic act generated a lot of unwanted publicity for her, so much so that she had to escape to Spain to make this record. No doubt that commotion affected her overall outlook and made her even more introspective than ever. Released on September 22, 1997, "Homogenic" sold fairly well, reaching the #4 spot on the UK charts and a respectable #28 in the states. I've noticed that some critics consider this disc to be a landmark in electronic music and, far from being an expert in that territory, I won't argue with their glowing assessment. However, for me it's not as entertaining as what came before. Still, I'm eager to see where she went from here. 3 stars.

 Gling-Gló by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.70 | 22 ratings

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Gling-Gló
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Björk's pre-"Debut" album (if that isn't an oxymoron) is the real oddball in her solo discography: a collection of unplugged Icelandic jazz standards, with a little added Irving Berlin and Oscar Hammerstein, sung in the local tongue and never intended for international audiences. Strictly speaking it wasn't, of course, a genuine solo album. The sessions were attributed to Björk Guðmunsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar, but it was the young celebrity singer in the spotlight, as usual.

When the album was recorded in 1990 Björk was still a member of The Sugarcubes: a precocious 25- year old post-punker looking for avenues of expression outside the limited scope of her band's eclectic New Wave sound. It wouldn't be unfair to say her vocal artistry was still a work in progress, as demonstrated by the overworked trademark growl effect here. But the unexpected change of musical pace was evidence of a restless creative spirit, almost ready to emerge from its chrysalis.

It was a big hit in the home country, which probably says more about Iceland than about the music itself. In retrospect the novelty value saves the album, at least when measured against the singer/songwriter's later explorations into modern electronica. I can't say your Björk library would be incomplete without it; the album is undeniably pleasant but still entirely disposable. For dedicated fans the album would obviously have more value, but it's still an album for dedicated fans.

 Post by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.52 | 109 ratings

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Post
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I started checking out Bjork earlier this year and have been somewhat surprised to find how interesting her music is. I've always liked the female voice whether it was Barbara Streisand's, Linda Ronstadt's or Billie Holiday's but didn't encounter it to any extent in the progressive realm's heydays of the 60s and 70s so when courageous ladies like Bjork and Tori Amos appeared on the scene in the 90s I paid them little attention. But prog rock paints on a much wider canvas these days and it took me a while to accept that all progressive music isn't necessarily going to sound like Yes or Genesis or ELP. Once my horizons were broadened (thanks in no small part to this template-expanding website's existence) I realized that I'd only been limiting myself by not giving the younger proggers a fair listen. Bjork is one of them and she is cool in every sense of the word. Her first official solo record, "Debut," was impressive and made me want to investigate her aural art further so "Post" was the logical next step in my education.

As she did with "Debut" she opens her sophomore CD bravely with something challenging. This time it's "Army of Me." A strong drum beat and a NIN-styled synth bass line precede the emergence of a strange, wandering vocal melody that doesn't seem to be grounded in any kind of established chord progression. In other words, if you come here looking for something akin to Aretha Franklin you'll quickly realize that this ain't exactly the queen of soul. The excellent "Hyperballad" is next and it's a song that possesses a little more structure that makes it much more comprehensible. The tune's jazzy electric piano as it wafts over a light techno rhythmic scheme is intriguing and Bjork's singing motif sticks out as being wholly unlike any other on earth. "The Modern Things" follows. Its underlying track develops in a way that's reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's early solo work and the jazz influence detected in her songwriting is undeniable. Yet Bjork is remarkably unorthodox on all counts so you never know what to expect. "It's Oh So Quiet" is a case in point. As she did on the previous disc, she slips into nostalgia mode skillfully and without apology, this time as she brazenly fronts a big band. What's great about this cut is how she manipulates the contrasting dynamics and her clever humor so brilliantly. It's highly entertaining stuff. On "Enjoy" she jumps back into an industrial groove that Trent Reznor would approve of and once again sings in a key that only she can hear. The number creates a bizarre, unnerving aura that is somehow magnetic. "You've Been Flirting Again" is a short vocal-with-string- section piece that provides the album with a classy change of pace moment right in the middle.

"Isobel" is another standout song. It sports a full orchestral opening and then morphs into a number containing a pulsating rhythm that exudes a slight South American vibe but the tune avoids becoming your average girl-singer fare because Bjork takes the score wherever she wants to regardless of conventional wisdom. I like that she so openly flaunts her freedom. "Possibly Maybe" is next and it begins with an electronically-generated loop of sampled sound before evolving into a slow-paced number wherein her emotionally-charged voice dominates, establishing a dichotomy between the serene and the passionate. "I Miss You" is another highlight. Its subtle dance beat is augmented by both artificial and authentic percussion instruments as the track strides beneath her aggressive vocal. She wisely lets the intoxicating momentum carry the song on its shoulders without hindrance and the brassy horns are an exciting addition. "Cover Me" is a brief arrhythmic, experimental composition that displays her fearless nature flawlessly. She closes with "Headphones." After an extremely subdued start she introduces muted synthesized toms that instigate a beat pattern to guide you through an array of inventive vocal snippets and manifestations of her free form poetry and utterances that tastefully manage to skirt around the potholes of becoming irritating or insincere.

Released in the summer of 1995, "Post" reached #32 in the USA but streaked up to #2 in the UK. The singles that the CD spawned also did much better in Britain than here in the states and that further confirms to me that the English continue to be much more prog-minded and flexible in their musical tastes than their Yankee counterparts. The effects of the MTV virus still linger, evidently. Bjork's music also suggests that the final decade of the second millennium was a lot more progressive than I realized and that may be due to the fact that her eclecticism kept her off of US radio stations that were too timid and conservative to give her songs a decent chance to flourish. Over here she was more likely to gain exposure from her wild costumes and exotic looks than from her adventurous music and that's a shame. Hopefully a lot more American proggers will discover her charms in time. Give her a spin. 3.5 stars.

 Debut by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.53 | 128 ratings

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Debut
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Like her or not, you gotta admit Bjork Gudmundsdottir has bucked some gargantuan odds to even get noticed. She hails from Iceland, a country containing a population comparable to that of the city of Wichita, Kansas and a mysterious realm that is completely isolated from the rest of the planet. They don't have neighbors to fight with and they don't necessarily cotton to having visitors show up unannounced. Their only indigenous music is of the primitive Nordic folk variety and, though they've composed a boatload of droning spiritual hymns over the centuries, they've never had a homegrown Elvis to shake things up. All other styles, whether they be derivatives of rock & roll, R&B, jazz, or classical, are considered foreign invasions to its more conservative inhabitants and that forced the younger generations to import all things radical in from somewhere else. Next think about the fact that out of a third of a million people perhaps ten percent can play an instrument. If one percent of the members of that group are good enough to be considered proficient then you've got barely over 300 individuals that are worth tipping. If you're a female that's going to be another serious drawback and if you aren't trying to be a Madonna copycat then your chances of achieving notoriety are reduced the level of winning the lottery twice in a row. What I'm asking of everyone who might scoff at her inclusion in the crossover prog category is to give the girl a great deal of slack. She's overcome a lot of huge obstacles in her career and managed to stay true to herself and her aural art at the same time so she deserves a certain amount of respect, at least. When she first started to garner attention back in the 90s I didn't know what to think of her (and didn't bother to investigate) but I could definitely tell she had some spunk in her attitude. She was her own person in a world full of pretenders and that caused me to withhold judgment until I could get a bead on what she was all about. I didn't realize it'd be over two decades later before I got around to sampling her wares but earlier this year I finally acquired a few of her albums and dutifully donned the headphones, starting with her 'Debut.'

I expected something strange and the first song, 'Human Behavior,' delivers. It features a shuffling snare, booming tympani and an indecipherable bass riff that roils beneath Bjork's vocal melody lines that seem to float without being tethered to a particular key. While I can't say I enjoy the piece all that much I will hand it to her for bolting from the gate in a uniquely weird manner. 'Crying' follows and it's a somewhat dated Trip Hop vibe riding atop a disco throb from start to finish. Say what you will about this cute little frosted mini-wheat but she has some serious RANGE in her arsenal and the tune itself has elements of Nine Inch Nails and Peter Gabriel woven into its fabric. She coyly skips back and forth from a minimalist setting into a full-on orchestral soundscape with relative ease and it's cool to witness. 'Venus as a Boy' is next and if there's a genre known as eclectic adult contemporary this is an example. Imagine Peggy Lee on mescaline. What sticks out most is Bjork's undeniable vocal acumen and her impeccable accuracy. All in all it's a delightful, slightly askew modern jazz number. The intro for 'There's More to Life Than This' gives the impression that one has stumbled upon a party-in-progress (the crowd noise was taped at a London nightclub) where a solid R&B groove is shaking the room. The inventive aspect is that she's willing to take risks aka making it sound like she's stepped away from the soiree into a closet right in the middle of the song. One thing I can say is that if you don't like one of these cuts then hang in there because variety seems to be her calling card as exemplified with 'Like Someone in Love.' On this one you're treated to some splendid, angelic harp work from Corky Hale and Bjork's unadorned singing of a sugary ballad as waves break peacefully upon a nearby shore. Not exactly my cup of tea but her preferences know no boundaries and that earns her a tip of my sombrero regardless. 'Big Time Sensuality' sports another Techno dance track foundation and it wears out its welcome quickly. It's one of the weakest tunes on the record in that it doesn't offer much in the way of surprises except for Bjork's remarkably aggressive mien. She has quite a raspy growl for such a tiny lady.

The soundtrack for 'One Day' reminds me of what Porcupine Tree was producing in their 'Up the Downstair' era and I find it engaging. She relies on her emotional, exaggerated vocal attack to provide the dynamics here but there are times when she's less than successful in that endeavor. Think Sade goes alternative rock or emo. 'Aeroplane' is a highlight. A Be-bop horn section opens and then a Martin Denny-ish tropical rhythm glides in to give it a strong, irresistible current. (FYI, Denny was a popular bandleader in the 50s and is considered the 'Father of Exotica.' His hit instrumental 'Quiet Village' still exudes a hypnotic aura to this day. Check it out.) This track is an intriguing mix of textures that's hard to describe yet difficult to dismiss out of hand. On 'Come to Me' I detect a palpable Annie Lennox air hovering behind Bjork's vocal performance but it's not a rip-off because nobody's voice sounds anything like this woman's. Something went disastrously wrong with my download of the next tune, 'Violently Happy,' so I can't offer an assessment. I assume it's another Pop Rock discoth'que ditty because I read where it climbed to #4 on the Billboard Dance Club chart so I'm not going to fret over missing it. 'The Anchor Song' is unusual in that it once again employs the brassy-but-subdued horn section as the number alternates measures of Bjork's sung melody line with a complex jazz score. It's an unconventional approach that I find very interesting and rather bold. As if to make up for the earlier botched download I received a bonus track called 'Play Dead.' It possesses a large-scale symphonic score that'll pin your ears back and, while it does border on being Broadway in a 'Days of Future Passed' sorta way, one cannot ignore her ability to spur her voice to wherever she wills it to go. You have to hear it to believe it.

I'll admit that I went into 'Debut' tentatively because I feared an onslaught of Yoko Ono-like wails and screeches but it turns out my anxiety was unwarranted. This ain't bad at all. What I found most appealing was Bjork's obvious ambitious nature and the character of her singing style. There are a few songs that I could go the rest of my life without hearing again but then some are unorthodox enough to make me curious about what she's done since July of '93 when this album was released. I plan to find out. In the final analysis 'Debut' is a sassy casserole of musical flavors and seasonings that unquestionably leans in a progressive direction. If you're in the mood for something a little off the beaten trail this might tickle your fancy. 3.1 stars.

 Vespertine by BJÖRK album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.01 | 121 ratings

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Vespertine
Björk Crossover Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars Programmed music, intriguing voice and respectable originality.

I do not know much about Björk´s universe, their eccentricities and their origins. And until recently I found unattractive dive into her discography. Some songs of this artist are considered within the Alternative Dance or Trip-Hop, but not here. And to recommend this very good album in a specialized rock page, I must warn those who read this description: It´s too electronic and can generate rejection in the first instance.

In my case to hear Vespertine at firsts times, it was not easy to get used to sound and style. Songs are not too catchy and not get tired. The voice is singular, the offer is genuine and successful atmosphere is devastating. There is variety and complexity to acceptable levels, beyond pop music and contains ambient too.

Thanks to chris s for the artist addition.

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