Björk - Vulnicura
Tracklist:
  1. Stone Milker
  2. Lion Song
  3. History Of Touches
  4. Black Lake
  5. Family
  6. Notget
  7. Atom Dance (Feat. Antony Hegarty)
  8. Mouth Mantra
  9. Quicksand

Respectable and Regrettable Emotional Landscapes

First of all, let me make one thing clear: I never loved the wigs on Björk’s head. So now the wig has left the building, together with husband Matthew Barney by the way, we’ll meet the brave but bald Björk again. I’m a hunter! The army of me! She’s back! Neither with multimedia scientific stuff as with “Biophilia”, nor with an all-vocal project as “Medúlla” was, but with a personal longplayer featuring electronic textures, stunning strings and her vibrating vocal choRRRds. Just like in “Homogenic” and “Vespertine”, but this part of the triptych isn’t sticking around for joy.

Björk’s previous studio albums – as an adult – were

“Debut” (1993)

“Post” (1995)

“Homogenic” (1997)

“Vespertine” (2001)

“Medúlla” (2004)

“Volta” (2007)

“Biophilia” (2011)

‘Vulnus’ in the Latin word for wound, ‘Cura’ is cure, so ‘Cure for
wounds’; or does the album’s title stand for ‘Vulnerability/Vulnerable’ + ‘Cure’ = “Vulnicura”? Deus only knows. The next full length album by the daughter of Guðmundur and Hildur, features 9 songs, to be exact three trios of tracks. The songs were written 9 months before the break up until 11 months afterwards. Venezuelan producer Arca and doom-ambient merchant The Haxan Cloak became part of the production crew. R.I.P. Mark Bell, we miss you.

Songs I-II-III explore the frustration, grief and sorrow of growing apart. So “Stone Milker”, “Lion Song” and “History Of Touches” are the musical antipoles of “Vespertine”. Song IV “Black Lake” is the album’s turning as well as key point, all driven by an arrhythmical, broken heart beat, over 10 minutes long. No more father “Family” ties in Song V. Song VI “Notget” is the most masochistic of all, built on the blood and pain of injuries and wounds. The “Biophilia” Atoms are back in Song VII to dance with Antony Hegarty with tears in their eyes. Björk is slowly recovering in songs VIII “Mouth Mantra” and IX “Quicksand”.

The album cover shows a heartless woman, ‘cause it has been torn from her chest, leaving a vulva shaped thoracotomy or open heart surgery gap. Reminds me in a way of the Körperwelten exhibitions of Herr Doctor Gunther von Hagens. And is Björk covered in acupuncture like needles, or is she the bull’s eye of darts? The album is echoing a bit David Arnold’s “Play Dead” feat. Björk (1993), The Brodsky Quartet version of “Hyper-ballad” (1996) and the MTV Unplugged session (2002). But this time her music is showing the dramatic, deviate, dark and dirty side of a broken relationship: All was full of love. Possibly maybe the most intimate and introverted output by Björk so far, not violently happy at all. It is not Björk’s most innovative project, but definitely her most deviant and exhibitionistic writ. As usual Björk’s music is still far from easy listening music: it takes courage to enjoy it! It takes courage to release this open book and chest album, a detailed document of her human behavior the last couple of years. Not for the faint-hearted.

– Wim Van Hooste

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