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Björk - Vespertine CD (album) cover

VESPERTINE

Björk

 

Crossover Prog

3.98 | 140 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Vespertine' is Bjork's 5th official studio album, and definitely demonstrates her foray into progressive and art rock. The songs on this album center mostly on love and eroticism and the lyrics can be quite graphic at times. The music is produced by instruments that would not be compromised by the download process as that was an issue at the time where the quality of a lot of music was diminished when downloaded electronically. Most of the percussive sounds on this album are produces by household objects. Best of all, the composition of the songs is anything but standard. That is where I admire Bjork the most is in her attempt to push boundaries of popular music, which she does without fear. She also experiments around the use of minimalism and micro beats.

'Hidden Place' starts off the track list with what would be the lead single from the album. Right away you get the electronic loop of a digital beat along with her soft vocals and harmonics. Some nice orchestral sounding loops create an older European atmosphere. You will also notice the lyrics are about a relationship between two people that are not yet confident about their feelings. 'Cocoon' dives deeper into the minimalism sound with the clicking percussion created with a synthesizer which sounds similar to vinyl clicking noises when a needle plays a record. The lyrics are erotic and sensuous and the feeling of the soft vocals reflect that.

'It's Not Up to You' has the same minimal feeling during the voices, but has a nice, well orchestrated chorus that utilizes a processed choir and has a more intense feel. 'Undo' utilizes harp and strings to create atmosphere and does a nice job of creating dynamics to help push the non-traditional melody along. 'Pagan Poetry' is a beautiful track which uses both a harp and a music box to create the background, but a regular bass is used also to help create a foundation. This was the 2nd single released, but it didn't receive a lot of airplay because of the sensuality of the lyrics. 'Frosti' is a short instrumental interlude created by a music box.

'Aurora' recreates an incident where Bjork was running across a glacier and fell. She injured herself and put snow in her mouth to ease the pain. Of course, this is innuendo to a sexual encounter. There is a beautiful choral arrangement in this one, with more harp and music box arrangements. 'An Echo, A Stain' enters a more experimental territory as it is much more minimal. The lyrics are based around a one-act play called 'Crave' written by Sarah Kane. The foundation is mostly driven by strings, a minimal beat and a lush choir. 'Sun in My Mouth' has lyrics based around a poem by E.E. Cummings called 'I Will Wade Out'. Bjork uses her vocal range quite effectively in this one.

'Heirloom' uses the beat of what sounds like an old Wurlitzer organ along with processed beats. Despite what many people might think, this is actually about familial love and how they take care of a person when they are sick. The track remains more minimal as do most of the songs on the 2nd half of the album, which, strangely enough, ends up creating a much stronger impression especially considering the subject matter. I find it more effective as far as the sensuous and romantic aspects go.

'Harm of Will' is about a romantic relationship between a troubadour and a libertine. It is the first collaboration between Bjork and Harmony Korine who would later become a regular collaborator with her. The last track is 'Union' which slowly climbs out of the minimalist feel of the last several tracks with a more traditionally composed song, but even so, it is far from traditional pop. There is a nice synthesizer hook that appears in the 2nd verse. This is a very beautiful and effective ending for this sensuous and lush album.

As much as one might think this is a boring album, it is not. In fact, it gets more beautiful and meaningful the more you hear it. It is original and does a great job of demonstrating Bjork's experimental and art-sy side. It is definitely original and progressive in every aspect. Even the more traditional tracks are still pushing the boundaries of popular music. This album definitely defies a real genre other than maybe minimalism at its most dynamic.

TCat | 4/5 |

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