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Björk - Volta CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.80 | 71 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Planet BJORK rolls into town once again for the release of 'Volta' and I guess there's no surprise that it's full of surprises. But after the ethereal, glorious 'Vespertine' and the experimental 'Medulla', what does she have left to give us?

Heartache, that's what. Whatever she has to say is drowned in the music: sampled horns, overbearing electronic percussion. Occasionally this heavy, dull curtain parts and reveals the fragile artists known as BJORK, but then the production takes over again and she is drowning in a sea of sound. Yes, her first three albums were instrumented, but to better effect than this. She wanted energy (hence the title of the album) but she got sludge.

The opener (and lead single) 'Earth Intruders' thunders away, fulfilling a similar role to 'Army of Me' on 'Post' but more unsettling (and interesting). However, the following songs aren't her best work. 'Wanderlust' is overburdened with sound, smothering the otherwise excellent ballad. 'The Dull Flame Of Desire' is impossible to take seriously, as ANTONY, the male vocalist she sings duet with, sounds uncannily like RICHARD CHEESE. Is BJORK telling us she's turning into a parody of herself? And how is this banal cabaret voice in any way suitable for the music or subject matter? The most disastrous BJORK offering since 'It's Oh So Quiet.'

'Innocence' is good fun, a TIMBALAND special. I like his chops but can't help wishing BJORK herself had generated the hi-voltage energy for which this album is named. Give me 'There's More To Life Than This' (from her debut) any day. When she gives her voice some aural space ('I See Who You Are') she ends up not having anything new to say. 'Cocoon' did this better. It's such a shame that the artist capable of producing something like 'Unison' (from 'Vespertine') had delivered something so un-engaging.

And so on. As I listen to song after song I've noticed how little she pushes her voice on this album. The backing music carries all the dynamic. We get a few wails but little of the adventurousness of her previous work. And none of the beauty. 'Pneumonia' is supposed to sound poignant but falls flat. 'Hope' doesn't offer any. And what on earth was she thinking with 'Declare Independence'? Lyrics straight from MUSE, chanted rather than sung in the best punk tradition. Now I know what a female dalek sounds like. Totally unconvincing. And we get more of RICHARD CHEESE to close the album. Yay.

On the cover of 'Vespertine' BJORK wore a swan. On this stunningly awful cover Big Bird is wearing her. A metaphor, perhaps, for the music having taken over? Tracks 1, 2 and 4 into the BJORK playlist, and the others off to the Wilderness of Irrelevant Songs to join - well, hardly any of her previous material.

russellk | 2/5 |


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