Friday, September 24, 2010

373 Post. Quirky Icelandic Fun.

Album: Post
Artist: Bjork
Year: 1995
Genre: Pop


1. Army of Me
2. Hyperballad
3. The Modern Things
4. It's Oh So Quiet
5. Enjoy
6. You've Been Flirting Again
7. Isobel
8. Possibly Maybe
9. I Miss You
10. Cover Me
11. Headphones

Before I sat down to listen to Post all the way through I knew Bjork from three different forms of media. The first was the song It's Oh so Quiet and it's accompanying video clip in which the singer wanders between a dreamy streetscape and a Buzby Berkley show tune. The second was another notorious clip which shows Bjork arriving at an airport in Thailand and suddenly turning from weary traveller with a press entourage into a vengeful pixie of death determined to smite all who would try and interview her. If you haven't seen the clip it's really a frightening piece of footage. It looks like Bjork is wandering in a daze through the departure lounge trying to remember something. You can see the confusion on her little face as she's clearly thinking: "now there was something I was going to do while I was in Thailand, what the hell was it? Oh I know, I was going to launch a frenzied assault on a journalist. How convenient there's one right here!" Her attack is vicious and brutal and if people hadn't been around to pull her off the female reporter you could honestly believe Bjork would have killed her. My final impression of the quirky Icelandic dwarf-person is related to the Cremaster films and installations prepared by her artist husband, which are demented, bizarre, twisted and I have to say very impressive and I enjoyed a lot.

I'm sure Bjork would like to be known for more than airport meltdowns and the work of her husband and so it seemed only fair to approach her biggest album with an open mind and an appreciative ear. It's Oh So Quiet has two tempos, a slow one for the parts where Bjork is singing about life between love affairs and an uptempo one in which she details the frentetic nature of a good romance. The Clip is great but the song is very Bjorky. The other noticeably bjorky song on the album is Hyperballad about a woman who lives in the side of a cliff and wonders what it would be like to throw herself off. It's an interesting approach to song writing- first person narrated suicide contemplation.

The problem with Bjork is definitely her voice, unless you're a Bjork fan in which case it's one of the biggest attractions. Bjork sings as if English is her second language (and it is) and also as if verbal communication itself isn't something she's especially comfortable with. Maybe that's why she prefers to let her fists do the talking when she's out in public. Personally I struggle with Bjork's vocal stylings. She drives me away more than draws me in but I can understand why people might be attracted. She can definitely sing and gets the most impact she can from her voice but if you're not onside she's not really going to win you over. She's an acquired taste.

Post is a strange listen. It's not as assaulting as an attack on a journalist but it's not as intriguing as a cremaster installation. I listened four times and reacted in exactly the same way that I did at the start. If you hear it once and like it then you're lucky, if your first listen didn't appeal I'm guessing repeated listens won't win you over.

Influenced by: Nordic Sensibilities.
Influenced: Ethereal Electronica

Highlight: Hyperballad
Lowlight: Headphones.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: To me, listening to Bjork sing is like listening to someone rake their fingernails down a chalkboard, or, failing that, rub a pinecone against a brick wall.

-Nails on a chalkboard I can understand but pinecones on a brick wall? Since when is that a universally accepted unpleasant sound?

So do you go bezerk for bjork or is she a jerk who's music doesn't work? Let me know below.

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