July Artist – Björk (Part 2)
This post is part of my Deep Dive Music Project. This month I’m listening to some music by Björk. Be sure to check out the Björk playlist I have on Spotify. Other parts of this post include
I’ve only really listened to the first four albums on my list (Debut, Post, Homogenic, Vespertine), but here are some of my random thoughts on them.
I’m very glad for websites that tell you the lyrics to songs. I grew up on cassette tapes and CDs and something I hated was getting a tape/CD and their not being the lyrics with the booklet. Nowadays this isn’t really a concern because even if you buy a tape/CD (or vinyl) you can look at the lyrics online. Tangent aside there was one song where I couldn’t figure out what Björk was singing. I thought it was something about a German man or a German band is what it sounded like. So I go onto a lyrics website and find out that uh yeah that part of the song was in Icelandic. No wonder why I couldn’t figure out.
“Isobel” is a song I’ve been repeating. The lyrics and story behind it are very interesting, but it has an orchestral sound to it (and kind of a 60s vibe when the strings come in at the chorus). It was also the song where I was like “okay I can get why Björk did the soundtrack for a movie.” Granted this album Post was several years before the movie Dancer in the Dark and it’s soundtrack Selmasongs, and I don’t know if Björk was the first/only choice approached to the music for this film (she also acted in it, but focusing on music here) or not, but if you listen to this song you think “this lady could do a film score/musical.” I should point out I’m not listening to Selmasongs and haven’t rewatched Dancer in the Dark but the music style is different than “Isobel”
So far for the the first four album the sound of music (?) has varied, which I kind of figured. And I think Björk has always kind of marched to the beat of her drum when it comes to her music. There’s a variation in what she does, and I would say because of this it’s hard to place her music in a particular genre or style or even time period. Like with some artists or albums you can listen to their music and know it was made in the 80s (as an example). But with Björk if I didn’t know when the albums were released I’d have harder time placing them in a particular decade/time period. Except the song “Alarm Call” is the most 90s sounding song I’ve heard from her so far. And it happens to be on Homogenic an album that was released in 1997.
I think Debut is probably the most mainstreaming sounding album of Björk’s, maybe you could add Post there too, but aside from seeing the music video for “Human Behavior” on tv maybe once I’ve never heard a Björk song on the radio. I wouldn’t say Debut is bad, but I think Björk is one of those artists who just continually pushes the envelope that listening to her first album feels like decent, but there’s just music I find more unique and captivating later on. Debut is definitely a solid album, and a good start to ease yourself into Björk’s music.
I love singers with a very unique voice, where you’ll be able to recognize their songs from the way they sing, the words they emphasize, their breath technique, their intonation, all that. And Björk is one of those singers with her own unique voice, not just in terms of songwriting, music style, but also in her actual voice. Maybe this just because I grew up singing in choirs where the goal is not to stand out, but to blend your voices (even when using harmony) that I love singers that stand out for their own voice and singing style.
I haven’t listened to Vespertine a lot, but I am enjoying it. The album is a bit of change of from the one before (Homogenic). But it’s still really good. I keep repeating “Hidden Place” and “Frosti” which is just gorgeous. And “Pagan Poetry” is great too (really I’ve been repeating the first few songs, but I am enjoying the whole album). Vespertine has more of a sparse sound to it, not that this bad by any means. This album is kind of pulling me in with its sound, which is apparently glitch pop, dance, art pop, electronica. I mean sure, but I can’t really think of an album to compare it to in terms of its sound or style. It’s kind of its own thing, and that’s why I was looking forward to this month. Because I knew I’d come across something I didn’t expect, even when expecting the unexpected. Björk’s music is exactly and nothing like I thought, and I can’t wait to listen to more.