‘Homogenic’ – Björk.
It’s a risky thing to deconstruct something that has been built on obscure angles and whose core structure seems as though it is a brick balancing on a needle; but I have put this aside for too long and as I go through yet another stage of musical obscurity myself, it does not seem so out of place for me to attempt to rock the Björk boat. >> *byerk*
Before I fell in love with Björk, I was trumping around a second hand ‘Vinyl and Disc’ store just looking for something a bit new and different. I had no idea where to start or what style I was looking for so I was open to pretty much anything. As I flicked through stacks of discs, I saw this fluoro blue cover on one of the shelves. It had this crazy picture on the front that looked like a robot geisha; her bright blue skin and her humongous hair sticking out off her head tripped me out. It was only $10 so I grabbed it – so much for not judging a CD by its cover…
‘Homogenic’ is one of my favourite albums of all time. In a sense, Björk is like Dylan; he has created a style that no-one can imitate – and so has Björk. Represent. Her music is mathematical; it can be really confusing at first, but the more you listen to it the more it makes sense and the more you can hear the melodies in it.
I’m not quite sure how to put Björk into sentences, so I’m going to use adjectives and bullet points. I hope you follow me…
Feeling: it’s like being on a rollercoaster that is going in circles really fast and upside down repeatedly whilst you throw your head around from side to side and your body shakes and twitches… truly.
Sound: there really is nothing like Björk, but to attempt describing her sound using more familiar artists; Björk is elements of Sigur Ros, Nine Inch Nails, Air, beats like Deadmau5 (sometimes) and Viking / Nordic music. I can’t really find anything else I could use to describe her, simply because nothing can; you’ll have to listen to the album.
‘Homogenic’ is an eclectic album. You get jazz, ‘dance’ electronic beats, shouts, screams, growls, hisses, experimental harp, strings, trance, trip-hop and some melancholy.
Her music frustrates me a little at times. When I’m listening to her and I am totally into her music and where the music is going, it will change direction completely and add heaps of weird sounds and change melody completely so that I’m sort of ‘left hanging’ in this emotional state, and then I’m trodden on with all this ‘new crazy stuff’ – ‘Joga’. This song has an incredibly beautiful introduction played by strings mixed with a few synth effects. The first half of the song is really placid and lovely to listen to, and then this weird beat and bass line buts in and changes the song completely; this is what I mean by frustrating. I’ve learnt to love the frustration though, I mean, that’s pretty much what Björk is all about. She is just totally annoying.
Björk is like another species of human… She has a different code of ethics and a different level of appropriateness that far surpasses the status quo we normal humans know and are used to. The first song on this album; ‘Hunter’, has quite a dark sound but the lyrics are quite deep – “if travel is searching, and home has been found, I’m not stopping, I’m going hunting, I’m the hunter…”. To be quite honest, I’m not really sure what she is talking about, but Björk has her own language and writes her music for herself and uses it as an outlet.
Björk has so many qualities that I admire. Just ‘youtube’ her and you will see how much she has no regard for what people think of her. Her movements on stage and her standards of fun are quite surreal, she has a really cool sense of humour too; ‘I’m no f*****g Buddhist, but this is enlightenment’ (from ‘Alarm Call’) pretty much sums it all up! She jokes continuously about her ‘Scandinavian-ness’ (as she is from Iceland), and her general disregard for everything mixed with her Icelandic syntax is simply amusing.
Björk really knows her music. ‘Unravel’ is my favourite song off the album because, put simply, she exercises discipline whilst allowing herself just enough freedom with her music so that she can experiment (obvious even on the recording) with her voice so that the track has a ‘fresh’ sound. Her voice plays around with the music, and you can actually hear her making decisions as to which direction she will take with her voice on the recording; it’s quite cute. ‘Unravel’ is a slower song; more melancholic and less frustrating. I think that it is the only song that I have ever heard that makes mention to a ‘ball of yarn’… It’s definitely worth a listen.
Björk’s music is full of discovery. There have been times where I have been listening to a really confusing and frustrating song of hers, and then all of a sudden there will come the ‘eye of the storm’ where a phrase will come about that makes total sense and works really well in the song; ‘5 Hours’. This song is very ‘robotic and electronic’, but then in complete contrast for 8 bars in the middle of the song, there is a part where the strings come in and play the main melody – and it all seems to work really well.
Her voice has the best technical ability out of every singer I have heard. She doesn’t have a range, she doesn’t have a genre, she doesn’t even have a style; she can do anything and she uses her voice very well; ‘Pluto’. This is also a dark song, but it’s a lot of fun to listen to (if you youtube it, you can see how much fun she has performing it as well). I love it how Björk doesn’t fence herself in; instead she experiments with everything.
This album gets my first rating of 5 STARS. It is definitely an acquired taste – but that is what makes it so tasty.