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Music Review

Bjork - Medulla

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1 of 1 A journey into experimentalist hell
A journey into experimentalist hell

Wellhart/One Little Indian - 2004- 45 minutes

Many music fans would run a mile at the mere mention of the words 'Bjork album'. Throw the word 'concept' in the middle of that phrase, and you're talking about a small minority within a small minority.

There are no instruments on this record. Well, there is a certain amount of programming, a piano on one song and a human beatbox in the form of Rhazel that provides much of the percussion, but that's it. Oh, and a few of the songs - if they can be called that - are in Icelandic, which strangely does not diminish the level of comprehension one bit.

"Where is the line?" Bjork wails repeatedly on the track of the same name, as the human beatbox backs her up and the Icelandic Choir chant dementedly in the distance. The queen of Icelandic pop may not know where it is, but she has certainly crossed it with this album.

To be fair, 'Medulla' does drift in and out of normality in places. 'Who Is It?' features a standard verse-chorus-verse structure, and could easily pass for a normal song - by Bjork's standards at any rate. 'Desired Constellation', too, is something of a highlight, finding Bjork in the soulful, plaintive, evocative mood that her fans adore so much. Her voice soars like it does on all her best work.

The Icelandic Choir, bless them, sound every bit as crackers as the woman herself at times, particularly on 'Oceania', where whooping arpeggios that skip through multiple octaves in seconds and sound like shrieks of the damned abound. On 'Sonnets/Unrealities XI', Bjork sounds like she's in the throes of a seizure.

Closer 'The Triumph of a Heart' draws the proceedings close toward sanity, but is too little, too late to save a record that is ultimately a journey into experimentalist hell, Icelandic style, that nobody in their right mind would want to take. Avoid.

Bill Lehane

Tracklisting: Pleasure Is All Mine - Show Me Forgiveness - Where Is The Line? - Vokuro - Who Is It? - Submarine - Desired Constellation - Oceania - Sonnets/Unrealities XI - Ancestors - Mouth's Cradle - Miðvikudags - Triumph Of A Heart

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