July Artist – Björk (Part 3)
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
Here are some of my thoughts on the other three Björk albums (Medúlla, Volta, and Biophilia) that I’ve listened to this month.
So in the last part I mentioned that I thought Vespertine had pretty sparse production compared to the albums beforehand, but that’s nothing compared to Medúlla. On first listen I was blown away by the spare sound of this album, and I didn’t realize it until I did a bit of research but this is mostly (though not entirely) an album without instrumentation. It’s mainly an a cappella album, but not in a barbershop/glee club type of way that most people associate a cappella music with. The way the vocals are layered on each and the unique sounds of this album (it features vocals from Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, beatboxers Rahzel and Dokaka, Faith No More singer Mike Patton, and an Icelandic children’s choir) makes this album a listening experience like no other.
Speaking of collaborations I always find it interesting when an artist collaborates with another artist you wouldn’t necessarily think of. I think it’s pretty telling of the unique artist that Björk is that she can collaborate with artists as varied as someone like Tanya Tagaq, but also hip hop producer Timbaland (who produced some songs on Volta) speaks to the unique artist Björk is. Also, apparently Björk wanted Beyoncé on Medúlla, but it didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts. I really wish this was a reality where that had happened.
Volta is probably the weaker album of the ones I’ve listened to, but that’s not to say it’s a bad album or unlistenable. It’s certainly a bit easier to get into than Medúlla, but it’s not as interesting to me and I haven’t felt this need to listen to it as much as the others. Maybe it’ll be one I get into later, but there are other Björk albums I’ve been repeating more.
Finally, Biophilia is another album I didn’t listen to a whole lot, but I did enjoy it. All of Björk’s albums sound very different from each other, and I there’s clear distinction going from Volta to Biophilia. There are some celestial bells, in the opening track which remind me a bit of the sound in Vespertine, but Biophilia is a very different album than that one. There are several songs on this album that have a bit of a dubstep element to them. Also, this album was originally released as an interactive ipad app, which speaks to the creativeness of Björk. I have an Android and they didn’t make the app for us.
Other notes: I didn’t really research much about Björk before this project, but I’ve learned that she’s another one of those child music prodigies . She started playing piano and flute at age 6, and got her first album deal at 11. It’s an album of covers in Icelandic and usually isn’t considered in Björk’s solo discography (she was also in several bands before her debut solo album Debut), but it’s interesting to note how she got her start in music so early (as have many of the artists I’ve featured on the Deep Dive Music Project). I love music and I’d never discourage someone from learning an instrument or getting into music after childhood, but there’s certainly something to be said for learning music in childhood. It’s like learning a language, just a bit easier when you’re young.
I know Björk’s music won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I’d encourage you to take a listen to some of Björk’s discography to expand your music knowledge (I’d say her first three albums Debut, Post and Homogenic are probably the easiest to get into). One thing that kind of frightens me is this idea that I’ll get into a music rut listening to the same artists and genres over and over. Or complaining that any music after a certain just isn’t good. Of course, having a favourite artists or music genre is fine, but I don’t want to think that the only good music is rock music from the 1980s (as a random example). I want to expand my musical knowledge and experience, and Björk has definitely helped me to do that.
Listening to Björk’s music reminds me of being a kid, not because her music is childish or juvenile in anyway, but because it’s so unexpected. Sometimes there are moments where I go “okay that’s like a trip hop element there” but then she’ll throw in a curveball with something else. And that way you feel as a kid where you don’t quite understand the world, but you’re trying to figure things out that’s how I feel listening to Björk. It’s a musical discovery that I wish I’d gone on sooner. I might be listening to another artist next month, but I’ll certainly return to listen to more of Björk’s music in the future.