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Björk - Post CD (album) cover

POST

Björk

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 131 ratings

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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.

Chicapah | 4/5 |

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