Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Shrinking Universe

[quote, inlay by Austin from "Origin Of Symmetry" - Microcuts.net]

September marks the arrival of explosive neo-classical rock band, Muse. Hailing from Devon, UK, they have bridged musical gaps by infusing classical elements from the romanticism era to brash distortion of modern anthemic rock. "Shrinking Universe" is what this world has become. Falling to their apocalyptic burning energy en masse are the likes of the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia and now the USA. To breathtaking hundred-thousand capacity stadium concerts in Europe, to record-breaking consecutive sell-outs gigs here in Australia, there is no stopping the world domination of this humble trio.

With three critically acclaimed studio albums and a frantic live soundtrack, one can clearly see their style and sound refined and pushed to the upper echelon of musical stratosphere. Never turning back or even looking sideways at the competition snapping at their heels, Muse with main vocalist and musical genius, Matthew Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard stride miles ahead of them.

As the month of September steamrolls with pace, I will endeavour to bring you release information, concert reviews and the countless specials already planned. So sit back, take off your headphones, and turn up the bass. Muse are in town, and their music will sonically . blow . you...away.

+ Lyrics to Shrinking Universe

Cast your eye tears on to me
And I'll show you what you really need
Give too much attention
And I'll reflect your imperfections

Can't you see it's over
Because you're the god of a shrinking universe

Purposeless survival
Now there's nothing left to die for
So don't struggle to recognize
Now the cruelly heart-felt suicide

Can't you see it's over
Because you're the god of a shrinking universe

Can't you see it's over
Because you're the god of a shrinking universe

The Meat Show - Paintings about children, God and USDA Grade A Beef

[The Butcher Bunny - from "The Meat Show" series. Copyright 2000. Mark Ryden]

[The Meat Magi - from "The Meat Show" series. Copyright 2000. Mark Ryden]

Meet the man, responsible for "Amica" [drawing of Björk], the gory, "Meat Show" and the frenetic "Bunnies & Bees"...Mark Ryden.

Mark Ryden was born on January 20, 1963 in Medford, Oregon, but grew up in Southern California.

He received a B.F.A. in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Mark's paintings instantly trigger a warped deja vu. His work recalls a parallel universe of 1950s Golden Books and the whimsy of Lewis Carroll. His cheery bunnies, rendered in the glowing hues of children's books, are likely to be carving slabs of meat rather than frolicking in the forest. Ryden's work mingles superb technique with outre images to create a world of strange and disturbing beauty. "At once intriguing and unsettling, baffling and enchanting, [Ryden's] works ... are subtle amalgams of many sources and influences as wide-ranging as Psychedelic and Vienna School artists Neon Park and Ernst Fuchs, to classical French formalists Ingres and David." - Rick Gilbert-Panik

Mark was part of a very creative family. His father, Keith, made his living painting, restoring, and customizing cars. Mark's mother, Barbara, while dedicated her life to raising her 5 children, was always busy with a creative project and encouraged her children in the pursuit of art. Mark's older brother KRK, an underground artist notorious in the counter culture, gave Mark an early introduction to art.

Mark's paintings are treasured by collectors from Australia to Sweden. A few of his clients include Stephen King, Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Leonard, Ringo Starr, Danny Elfman, Kirk Hammett, Paul Leary, Chris Carter, Don Was, Kidada Jones, Bridget Fonda, Henry Selik and the famous anti-mogul Long Gone John.

Currently, Mark paints high atop a magic castle in Pasadena, California. You can find him late at night in his studio among his many trinkets, statues, skeletons, saints, and old toys that he collects for inspiration.

[quote, Mark Ryden]

Although the Ryden's drawing of Björk did not come from "The Meat Show" series, it was through this disturbing preview of his exhibition here that I found the image of the Icelandic goddess, laying on an alter, surrounded with lush flora.

Björk isn't the only celebrity fantasized in Ryden's psychedelic landscape. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jimi Hendrix and Christina Ricci all feature prominently. Not even popular culture icons like The Teletubbies could escape Ryden's juxtaposed demonic creations.

I am completely fascinated with the imagery Ryden creates in his paintings. His creations are vivid and colourful, often luring the viewer into a false pretense for a closer view. It is only upon closer inspection that reveals an utterly disgusting, yet compulsive image. Ryden's liberal use of innocent children with wholesome, American faces in clean clothing, doing the most heinous acts involving butchery, gluttony and political flattery is appalling. If Ryden is out to shock people out of their comfortable, sterile box, then he has accomplished that.

There is something quite sadistic about the "Grim Reaper" dressed up as a pseudo-icecream man, promoting meat and political propaganda to wondering wide-eyed children. Scratch off the bright colours, the candy-designed truck wheels, and even the oversized bee, and all you will find is the exhaust pipe billowing with smoke, darkened clouds and the "Big Brother" eye on the cap of the "Meat Magi". But yet, I am compelled to view more. Ryden takes us on a magical journey, a landscape filled with blood and texture in nightmarish proportions.

Now, would anyone like a serving of the juiciest cut of meat?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I Do This All For You

[quote, "Dazed & Confused" September 2004]

Well, as the end of August draws to a close, the "Björk" special will also end. Another new artist or band will feature in the month of September. However, don't expect a quick update, as this is labour intensive and creatively draining! But hopefully it will be as exciting and visually stunning as it has been.

Another spectacular event that is also drawing to a close, is the Athens Olympics Games. As you know, Björk was the only performer of the Opening Ceremony, where she performed for the first time, the wonderful "Oceania". Lynn Fox, the visual collective, produced and directed the stunning visuals as a backdrop to Björk and here is the original visual treatment -

[quote, Björk in "Unravel" by Lynn Fox]

In other emerging news, R&B self-confessed "Milkshake" diva, Kelis has re-recorded "Oceania" into a slamming Mark Bell-inspired remix. In the countless rumours about Kelis working with Björk, finally BBC1 premiered the "radio-only" mix of "Oceania", which features hard, industrial beats over the song, and a new set of lyrics, sung by Kelis.

Lyrics to Oceania Radio Mix

I am the continent,working with the moon
No one ----
But I've always ------
There are worlds of things within me.
My bellys always full
Freedom's ----
Yes, my heart is deep within
Nations dive and trust me
Nations dive and trust me
I lay them at my shores
They dance with me in time.

You show me continents -
I see the islands
You count the centuries -
I blink my eyes

Björk: Hawks and Sparrows
Kelis: (Theres no one I can't reach)
Björk: Race in my waters
Kelis: (Only I reflect the sky)
Björk: Stingrays are floating across the sky
Kelis: (My power is infinite)
Kelis: (I do this all for you)
Björk: Little ones
Kelis: (I do this all for you)
Björk: My sons and my daughters
Kelis: (I do this all for you)
Kelis & Björk: Your sweat is salty, I am why

"Björk fans cruising Internet file-sharing networks this week stumbled upon a high-tech whodunit: Was that really a husky-voiced Kelis singing on a version of Björk's "Oceania," as the track was labeled? Or was it just another Internet mash-up, the handiwork of some bedroom DJ somewhere? "It's absolutely, positively Kelis and Björk on the track," Björk spokesperson Sherry Ring said Thursday (August 26). "The song didn't make it onto Björk's album because it was recorded so recently, but a lot of versions of that song were done."

[quote, 4um & BJORK.IT]

And now, the thank yous. Thank you to Björk.com for the specials, to all the fans and members of the 4um, Medúlla Special for the additional information and everyone else who have been a great source of energy, creativity and input. Thank you for supporting this special, and check regularly for updates and the next "Artist Of The Month" .

[Björk's Thank Yous - Björk.com]

The Pleasure Is All Hers

"Medúlla" - Released 30 August 2004

Available instores: HMV, Sanity, JB-Hifi, and other music speciality stores. Only the special limited edition SACD and regular CD versions have been released here in Australia. No word on the release of the DVDA versions.

+ tracklist

01_________________________Pleasure Is All Mine
02_________________________Show Me Forgiveness
03_________________________Where Is The Line
05_________________________Öll Birtan
06_________________________Who Is It
08_________________________Desired Constellation
10_________________________Sonnets / Unrealities XI
12_________________________Mouth's Cradle
14_________________________Triumph Of A Heart

+ collaborators

+ beats - Rahzel, Shlomo and Dokaka.
+ vocals - Björk, Mike Patton, Robert Wyatt, Gregory Purnhagen, Tagaq, Icelandic + London choirs.
+ songwriters - Björk, Sjón, Olivier Alary, Tagaq, Jórunn Vidar & Jakobína Sigurdardóttir, E.E. Cummings.
+ programming - Valgeir Sigursson, Mark Bell, Little Miss Specta, Matmos, Jake Davies, Olivier Alary, Björk

+ facts

+ a limited edition of "Medúlla" will have expanded artwork and a 16-panel poster
+ the Japanese release will feature a bonus track
+ Öll Birtan means 'All the light', Vökuró means 'Vigil'
+ Sonnets / Unrealities XI is based on a poem by E.E. Cummings.

+ formats

+ TPLP358CD Standard CD audio only in standard jewel case
+ TPLP358CDL Limited SACD hybrid format in digi-pack with poster
+ TPLP358 Double vinyl heavy weight gatefold format
+ TPLP358DVD DVDA + 'Making of' 45min documentary in super jewel case
+ TPLP358DVDA Stand alone DVDA format in DVDA box (US case)
+ TPLP358SACD Stand alone SACD format in SACD casecat no
+ TBA DVD 'Inner Part of an Animal or Plant Structure - Making of' 45min documentary only in DVD case

+ artwork

+ M/M (Paris) (aka Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag)
+ Inez/Vinoodh (aka Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin) had the photoshoot in London on June 28th 2004.

[quote, Björk http://www.bjork.com]

Medúlla Biography

“With a palm full of stars
I throw them like dice on the table
Until the desired constellation appears”,

…sings Björk on her new album, Medúlla. If you were seeking a metaphor for her extraordinary approach to music making, that lyric would serve nicely. Long adept at fashioning new sonic universes, Björk now returns with a record which is perhaps her most daring. “Instruments are so over”, she has said with a mischievous twinkle. The vast majority of Medúlla, you see, relies solely on the myriad textures and timbres of the human voice.

Sitting in a quiet back room at a favourite restaurant near Reykjavik’s main square, Björk explains that she hadn’t planned the album that way. Hadn’t planned it any way, in fact. For a while she’d known that 1997’s Homogenic was going to be an overtly extroverted record, and that 2001’s Vespertine would be its much more introverted volte-face, this album was supposed to dispense with any blueprint or rules. Björk was continually adding exploratory live drums (“I’m awful, but drumming relieves tension!”) to arrangements already laden with instruments.

But then came a crucial epiphany. “It wasn’t working”, she says, “and I was trying to figure out why; wondering, ‘Where are the songs in all this mess?’ Then I sat down at the mixing-desk and started muting the instruments, and it was like,Oh! There they are.’”

Pressing-on with her light-shedding deconstructions, Björk soon hit upon an idea -could she make a part traditional, part cutting-edge album that was almost entirely a cappella? Of course she could. “The only other rule”, she says smiling “was for it not to sound like Manhattan Transfer or Bobby McFerrin. After that, it became a very spontaneous, kind of carefree album to make. I didn’t want to spend another two years making it just a tiny bit better - fuck that.”

Recorded in 18 different locations including New York, Iceland, Venice and The Canary Islands, Medúlla sees Björk collaborating with another crack-team of alchemists and fellow mavericks. Some of them – programmer Mark Bell; mixer Mark ‘Spike’ Stent; Valgeir Sigurdsson - were already time-served Björkians. Others – Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq Gillis; Japanese a cappella ace Dokaka; the esteemed Robert Wyatt - were not. Erstwhile Faith No More singer Mike Patton and Rahzel, his buddy from The Roots, are on the album, too. The former came on-board after Björk, adrenalised post-gig, took him to one side to rave about the project.

As producer of Medúlla, Björk directed the eclectic ensemble she had cherry-picked: “I liked all of us to make any special noises we could on the new album”, she says. “Sometimes there’s a kind of weave or blend where nobody is more important than anybody else; other times I wanted each singer to have a sort of solo.”

Listen out, then, for angelic and demonic sounds, for erotic, exotic and comedic sounds; for human takes on insects, birds, and drum-loops, whistling, joyous abandon and moments of sublime grace. On ‘Vökuro’ (there’s a wonderful story regarding the song’s appropriateness for Björk, but let’s not give it away here) she and a 20-piece choir reinvent a timeless-sounding composition that septuagenarian Icelandic composer Jórunn Vidar originally wrote at the piano. “It was actually pretty easy to change”, says Björk, mapping-out the octaves of a piano keyboard on the table in front of her. “The soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts were already there.”

Whilst on the volcanic island of La Gomera, (as we know, she thrives on volcanicity), one of the least touristy spots in The Canaries, Björk strolled alone, singing at the top of her voice. Her pal, Richard ‘Aphex Twin’ James, had tipped her off about an invaluable little gizmo that she carried with her at all times: “Basically, it enables you to record layers of vocals while walking outside”, she says. Hence La Gomera’s flora and fauna witnessed an early version of ‘The Pleasure Is All Mine’.

Between the end of the Vespertine tour and starting on Medúlla, Björk had kept busy, as she emphatically does. Her Greatest Hits and Family Tree sets were anything but perfunctory stop-gaps, the former subject to much careful deliberation, and the latter’s six, treasure-laden CDs and beautifully designed packaging knocking spots off your typical box-set.

A word now about Björk’s album titles: as an all-round aesthete, she has increasingly given much thought to them. Not for her the lazy convenience of ‘Björk 7’. But she would see the humour in ‘Now That’s What I Call Gudmundsdóttir.’ Levity aside, though, Medúlla’s title, like that of Vespertine, is as thought provoking as it is appropriate. Here’s Björk on the matter:

“I was going to call the album ‘Ink’, because I wanted it to be like that black, 5,000 year-old blood that’s inside us all; an ancient spirit that’s passionate and dark, a spirit that survives. Something in me wanted to leave out civilisation, to rewind to before it all happened and work out, ‘Where is the human soul? What if we do without civilisation and religion and patriotism, without the stuff that has gone wrong?’ When I first moved to New York there was room for immigrants and eccentrics and whoever, then suddenly it became the most scarily patriotic place on earth. “Then”, Björk continues, “I got drunk – surprise!- with my artist friend Gabriella and she came up with the title Medúlla. It basically means ‘marrow’ in medical language, in Latin. Not just you’re bone marrow, but marrow in the kidneys and marrow in your hair, too. It’s about getting to the essence of something. And with this album being all vocals, that made sense.”

You’ll remember we said Medúlla was supposed to be an album without provisos. So even if the quotes above might suggest that it has some kind of political dimension, it’s important to reiterate that Björk made it without any over-arching theme in mind. “I used to write lots of lyrics that were like: ‘I am HERE, and I’m walking down THIS street”, she says, “but on this album there are no rules with the words. If you want to sing about a candle-flame, then go for it, and if you want to sing about existentialism or a celibate nurse from Boston, then go for that, too. Some of the time, I’m just following a train of thought. There are no flashing neon signs.”

Like the aforementioned Vespertine, or SelmaSongs, Björk’s enchanting soundtrack to 2000’s Dancer In The Dark, Medúlla transports the listener to another magical and unique world. Tune-in to the chattering, frenetic brilliance of ‘Who Is It?’, or the thrilling aquatic sojourn that is ‘Oceania’, for example, and ask yourself who else is making music this fresh, this intuitive, this vitalising, this special… “There are lot of little things about this record that seem to fit together”, concludes Björk, “and it feels good to trust nature and my subconscious. You start some kind of universe, and because you’re doing it from the right place, it completes itself. I definitely feel that I’m getting better at what I do, too. Not that it’s good, necessarily; just that there is an improvement. The best thing, maybe, is that I’m enjoying all those little nuances with people, all those micro-moments that I used to think were just pauses between real life.”

[quote, Björk - Medúlla Biography]


"Domestica" has always been one of those quirky, b-sides that Björk constructed. Out of pure insanity and stress of everyday life and taking an obvious toil on her, she comes out with this. Being constricted with limited freedom, one cannot help but to empathise with her, or just plain laugh at the absurdity of the song! No doubt Björk once again strikes a chord with her guttural honesty.

The above photography by guru David LaChapelle (Madonna, "Ray Of Light") has nothing to do with "Domestica", but it resembles the theme. Behind the glamour, style and sophistication, Björk covers her face with a fishnet stocking. In another fashion non-conformist direct statement, Björk almost feels that she needs to hide behind a mask. Although see-through, it is restricting her facial movements and expressions. This is one of the underlying theme to "Domestica", that no matter what a musical superstar, electronic goddess or diva she may be, Björk has to partake in the daily grind of life that so many of us has experienced.

Lyrics to Domestica

Oh boy,
Where HAVE I put my keys?
I've looked in my pocket
Behind the newspaper
And underneath the remote control
But I still can't find where I put it again

Oh boy,
I cannot find my KEYS!
I'm far too late
The door is open now
A taxi is waiting there
Ba ba ba ba ba baba ba ba ba

The phone keeps ringin'
I'm DEFINITELY not goin' to
Pick it up, cause:
When I grow up
I'm gonna get those fancy key-rings
That you
Whistle at
They whistle right back
At you
Ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba, HA! [laughing]

A Glimpse of The Lake and Other Nonsense

The Lake Album

Who remembers this horrible, horrible joke played out on us vulnerable fans with Björk's impending album. This unfunny April Fools Day "news" item was presented on the Björk/Grapewire by the cunning MWC (aka Mad Web Carpenters) team -

"Brace yourself for a nice treat! We have the very pleasure to show you an exclusive first small peek at the cover artwork for the Lake album! It was created by a young and upcoming new visual artist called Plata. The idea was born in Iceland while recording some songs for the album in the studio. The inspirations is the beautiful northern lights, tying it again to the Icelandic roots, and the nature which surround the lake where the video for It's In Our Hands was filmed, but is also open for the impressions of the artist to flavour the creation. More information and visuals will come shortly! Very exciting!"

Ashamedly, I was actually impressed by this small, unassuming "cover" art. Maybe it represented something new, or computer generated that had that "Björk" written all over it. But alas, it was nothing. Our hopes were dashed. In relation to studio album number 5, other rumours included the revival and burial of the much anticipated "Singles Box", and recently, the "demo" of "Triumph Of A Heart". In this first leak of "Medúlla", the affectionally dubbed "Do Do Do Do" song captured our hearts and gave us a real taste of what Björk was up to behind the mixing desk. But in all fairness, whether this song was leaked intentionally or accidently, it certainly created a buzz. Even the popular, well-known music critic Pitchfork mentioned this as one of their exclusive news. Labelling it "experimental pop" and 3.5 stars, here is Dominique Leone's review:

"Aging doyen of the histrionic art-song returns with Medulla and this, a demo version of the album's closing track leaked to file-trading networks, saying not much more than "do do do do do." Of course, she uses not only her voice to drive home this "point," but samples of it played by various synthesizers and drum machines. The busy rhythm track provides most of the song's action: Reminiscent of Mouse on Mars and frequent Björk collaborators Matmos (who were one set of Medulla's programming teams), it's constructed primarily from beatbox fragments, and though spliced into strange clicks, pops and hums, a distinctly human element does peek through.

That the rhythmic foundation here doesn't seem as distinctive as its antecedents on Post or Homogenic did at the time may be a result of the song's unfinished nature, but Björk remains ever the master of her domain: Very few other singers could pull off the bizarre, intimate timbres she does, with only the barest melodic fragments. The many layers of her whisper at the end swarm like bees in the distance, and the ones that open the track are mutated into percussive instruments as crisp and precise as any on the rhythm track. Furthermore, as someone who never warmed to the over-brewed dramatics of Vespertine, this song's relatively sparse arrangement is refreshing. If her eccentricities are muted these days, they're still hers alone."

[Dominique Leone; July 19th, 2004]

Well, I promised "The Lake" album and "other nonsense", so without further ado -

I cried myself silly when I saw this cartoon, depicting Björk and her infamous dead swan dress at the 2001 Oscars. The most ironic thing is, Björk uses a duck (could this be the "Odd Duck"?) for her feathers of her "swan" dress.

Björk really has a fascination, actually, more like a fetish with feathers. Perfoming "Bachelorette" at "Fashion Rocks" in an Alexander McQueen black dress, Björk represented a raven, dressed in thick feathers, flapping in the airvent below. Her hair was pinned up and ruffled up into a birds nest (literally), and she sung her heart out.

Also, at last years "Fuji Rock" Festival in Japan, Björk donned on pair of rings with electric blue feathers, hooked onto her ears. Taking jewelry and accessories to the extreme, Björk never wavers and shy away from any event.

Lastly, this was found at Björk's 4um -

This amazing piece of work came from a competition where Barbie dolls are dressed up as rocks stars. Unfortunately, this creation only came second. The article was featured in "Designer Dolls Magazine" and the following is an abstract -

" Alexander McQueen designed this outfit for Björk and she wears it on the cover of her "Homogenic" CD [picture below]. It's a mixture of Asian and African style. The hair of her extravagent two discs hairstyle is rerooted. Her extraterrestrial face is repainted. The rings of her necklace are African style. The metallic flowers of her kimono and the stripes on her sash are hand painted. Matching with this she wears long metallic blue fingernails. Even her red no heeled sandals are exceptional."

Thursday, August 26, 2004


syn·chro·nic·i·ty ( P) Pronunciation Key (si[ng]-kr&-'nis-&t-E)
n. pl.

1. The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism.

2. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in Jungian theory as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.

[source: The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

To be or not to be? That is not the question. It seems that this short, odd tune with the cool techno title will not feature on any future album release. It was produced as a gift to the skaters of the Chocolate team and Spike Jonze [video director, collaborator and friend of Björk] and was featured on their latest DVD, "Hot Chocolate". Staring: Gino Iannucci, Marc Johnson, Kenny Anderson, Scott Johnston, Mike York, Richard Mulder, Chico Brenes, Justin Eldridge, Chris Roberts, Daniel Castillo and guests.

Released 1st May 2004, "Hot Chocolate"details the filming the team's road trip, including interviews, skits, and, of course, crazy skateboarding. Directors Ty Evans and Spike Jonze offer an inclusive look at the Chocolate team while having a party along the way [quote, DVD description]



04___________________________________ Vökuró (3mins:12secs)

+ In Icelandic this means 'Vigil'.
+ The poem was written by by Jakobína Sigurðardóttir. (corrected)
+ The original of Vökuró is by Jorunn Viðar (composer). (corrected)
+ Sung in Icelandic. [themack.org]
+ Björk is accompanied by only a choir on this track; it's very hymn like. [themack.org]
+ Vocals: Björk & Icelandic Choir

[quote, Björk.com]

"It was actually pretty easy to change [from piano]", says Björk, mapping-out the octaves of a piano keyboard on the table in front of her. "The soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts were already there."

+ Song Info

+ Performed by Björk with The Icelandic Choir
+ Written by Jakobína Sigurdardottir
+ Composed by Jórunn Viðar
+ The original version of this song can be found on the Smekkleysa release by Jórunn Viðar - Únglíngurinn I Skóginum.

"It probably means "Calm of being awake".. it's hard to explain. But it's basically a lullaby, and it's the one song on the album that is not by me, it's by an Icelandic composer who is like 80 years old now. There's a funny story for that song, because I wanted that song first to be on Vespertine, and there was this music box company that was making 12" copper plates where they drill holes into the plates that is the song, and it takes forever to do them. I got them first to do 'Pagan Poetry', then 'Aurora' and then 'Frosti'. Then I sent 'Vökuró' for them to do, because the cycle of this disk takes one minute - and 'Vökuró' has four verses which each take one minute, so it was perfect, and each verse goes slower and slower which makes sense, because most songs start slow and then go fast, but since this is a lullaby it starts fast and goes slower. But it takes them so long to drill the holes in the copper plates that I still haven't got it - so it missed Vespertine.

So then we did this song for this album, and I called the composer and go "I just recorded this song, is it OK with you that I put it on my album?" and she goes "Yeah it's OK. You're obviously very influenced by your daughter." ...I go "...Yeah?". "Well she's got blue eyes, doesn't she?" and I couldn't really work out what that had to do with anything. Then we said goodbye, and then later I worked out that the song was actually sung to a little girl that has blue eyes. Four years ago when I wanted to do that song, and was having the battle with the musicbox-makers, there was no way I could have known that in four years time I would have a little girl with blue eyes. It's a little bit of a sentimental story." [Björk, XFM 25aug04]

This is my concise tribute to one of the standout tracks on "Medúlla". Essentially a choral piece, sung to a poem written by Jakobína Sigurðardóttir and composed by Jórunn Viðar, it is the album's most haunting, vivid track. Soul-wrenching and raw, it almost conveys the notion of being on a "vigil". From what? I am not too sure. Whichever the case is, some clever linguist from Björk's 4um has translated the Icelandic lyrics into English. As you can see, it is not complete - although you do get a feel of what the poem whispers.


The Lyrics section of Björk's official website has posted a complete lyrics and translation, as well as some information of Vökuró [as well as the other songs]

+ Icelandic Lyrics - Vökuró

bærinn minn
bærinn minn og Þinn
sefur sæll í kyrrþ
fellur mjöll
hljótt í húmi á jörð
grasi mitt
grasi mitt og Þitt geymir mold til vors
hjúfrar lind
leynt við brekkurót
vakir eins og við
lífi trútt
kyrrlátt kalda vermsl
augum djúps
útí himinfyrrð starir stillt um nótt
lángt í burt
vakir veröld stór
grimmum töfrum tryllt
eyrðar laus
óttast nótt og dag
augu Þín
ótta laus og hrein brosa við mér björt
vonin mín
blessa brosi Þitt
vekur hlijóð úr værð
hvílist jörð
hljóð í örmum snas
lokar augum blám litla stúlkan mín

+ English Lyrics - Vigil

My farm
my farm and yours
sleeps happily at peace
falls snow
silent at dusk on earth
my grass
my grass and yours
keeps the earth til spring

Nesting spring
hid at the hill's root
awake as are we
faith in life
quiet cold spring
eye of the depths
into the firmament
staring still in the night

Far away
wakes the great world
mad with grim enchantment
fearful of night and day
your eyes
fearless and serene
smile bright at me

My hope
your blest smile
rouses verse from sleep
the earths rests
silent in arms of snow
lily white
closes her blue eyes
my little girl

Dazed & Confused

I am often Dazed and Confused. It's like waking up when your alarm calls...and then, after fumbling around to switch it off, you fall back asleep...only to be awaken in a daze...and confused of the time, the surroundings and quite possibly if you are still asleep or awake.

The picture above clearly resembles that. It is the September 2004 cover to the British music and culture magazine, "Dazed & Confused". In all "Björk-ness", her wonderful portrait has been twisted, peeling back a layer of epithelial cells to reveal another pristine Björk-likeness in image. The flawlessness of her skin, her perfectly braided hair, her subtle pose seem almost reduced to gothic proportions. No doubt a very simple feat accomplished by the numerous graphics programs available, it still sets an unsettling tone and eeriness. Perhaps of hint of things to come? Oh maybe a taste of her inner deep part of her animalistic being? Or am I just reading too much into a very eye-grabbing picture?

Anyway, here is a synopsis:

Dazed & Confused Vol2 Issue 17

This month, Dazed's cover is graced by Iceland's queen of electronics, Björk, who discusses her new a cappella album and collaborations, her respect for Rahzel and her fast approaching performance at the opening of the Olympics.

Interestingly Björk maybe the "Queen of Electronics", she hasn't used it in her latest album "Medúlla". Instead, she uses the wizardry in the behind-the-scenes take: utilising the talents of Matmos, Mark Bell and a whole host of producers to sculpture her sound. However, all you hear are vox samples, recorded, spliced up, re-arranged and crafted into something quite extraordinary.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Inner Part of an Animal or Plant Structure

medúlla, the inner or deep part of an animal or plant structure

Review by Reuben

Daring. Bold. Creative. Visceral. "Medúlla" is one of the most breathtaking albums to grace 2004. Amidst all the hype, the oddity and the brash creative overhaul of overrated instruments, Björk manages to serve up some flashes of brilliance. In true animalistic fetish, the stunning lead single "Oceania" transforms the swan-like creator into a glittering jelly-fish at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony at Athens. In what can be the most anticipated album from this intriguing musician and performer, "Oceania" is pure tapestry. With structure based purely on vocal samples and an ethereal Icelandic choir, this is the strongest link between the listener and Björk's highly layered themes and complex imagery.

Always insisting on fusing her explosive art and vision into her music, Björk herself becomes an instrument in her deeply personal and raw fifth studio album, "Medúlla". Stating her music belongs to "caves, straw huts and grottos", it is easy to see that she does not want the world to hear her "Medúlla". Well, not the Top 40 pop world anyway. In a move that will definitely isolate her music from the rest, Björk is definitely not looking for commercial success to applaud her creativity or musicianship.

The album's opener, "Pleasure Is All Mine," simulates a lush arrangement, densely layered with humanity. The cry from the choir is heart-warming, as the melody overtakes the sensors in what seems like an overload. It lures the listener into a false security of a beautiful landscape. But actually, it is only a precursor to the madness and oddity "Medúlla" has to offer. The beauty of taking something impossible, such as sampling vocals instead of sounds or instruments, into music that doesn't sound like an entity entirely made up of vocals is pure genius. Much praise can be given to Björk and her host of overworked producers.

"Songs" such as "Where Is The Line?" is converted from the live, crowd-favourite stomping version of anger and angst electronica and bass into a subdued but very empowering choral piece. "Vökuró" extends this with an epic hymn. Not shying from her roots, Icelandic poetry is sung to the wondrous choir that conveys such softness, such harmony that one can only appreciate the stark meaning of the song, which is to be "vigil".

In under an hour, the album dissipates, ending abruptly and short-changing the magic with silence. Another ploy to deceive listeners with "music"? Or has the album really finished? In all fairness, such burst of eccentric creativity is just that. A burst. But if you survive the journey, you will be rewardingly pleased.

Hidden Place

I've just discover that a song that most resembles me, is "Hidden Place".

This is so profound. Not only have I rediscovered my love for this song unexpectedly, but it has been 3 years since it had came out and only now am I taking pleasure in its tiny, minimalistic style. I remember all the hype surrounding the release of "Hidden Place" and Björk's 4th studio album, Vespertine. I heard it first while watching the video...although I was impressed with her earlier works...this song was a bore. Through and through. It was repetitive, loosly based and quite sparse. I was disappointed no doubt.

But upon hearing "mixes" made by the very talented Matmos, "Hearts & Bones" used the intro of this song as a sample. I fell in loved with it instantly! Mind you, it was seriously a year after I had purchased Vespertine on DVDA. Like all Björk albums, there is a minimum of 12 months for me to really first appreciate her music, to becoming avid fans. I guess her music is so forward and ahead of the times, that I have to retrain my brain constantly. I like this in any artist. No matter the style of music, or the voice or the messages in the lyrics. What matters most is how the music moves me, and how it challenges me to accept it, to appreciate it and lastly, to love it musically.

Lyrics to Hidden Place

Through the warmthest
Cord of care
Your love was sent to me

I'm not sure
What to do with it
Or where to put it

I'm so close to tear
And so close to
Simply calling you up
And simply suggesting

We go to the hidden place
That we go to the hidden place
We go to the hidden place
We go to a hidden place

Now I have
Been slightly shy
And I can smell a pinch of hope
To almost have allowed once fingers
To stroke
The fingers I was given to touch with
But careful, careful
There lies my passion, hidden
There lies my love
I'll hide it under a blanket
Lull it to sleep

I'll keep it in a hidden place
I'll keep it in a hidden place
Keep it in a hidden place
Keep it in a hidden place

The beautifullest
Still strong
Dark and divine
And the littleness of his movements
Hides himself
He invents a charm
That makes him invisible
Hides in the air
Can I hide there too?
Hide in the air of him
Seek solace

In that hidden place
In a hidden place
In a hidden place
We'll stay in a hidden place
Ooohh in a hidden place
We'll live in a hidden place
We'll be in a hidden place
In a hidden place

I am WHY

"I am WHY"

Why would I choose such an odd title? Well, it is one of those mysteries. It can be a question. It can be an answer. In short, it sums up how the generality and emotions of living. I think Björk knew exactly what she had wanted when she stated that line in the beautiful, but willowy "Oceanía".

The reason to building this, is to "deconstruct" music my own way. It's deep within me. I cannot help it. I was born to music, brought up in music and now breathe music. My inner core cannot help but tell people how emotive and what great masterpieces these artists have painted. Each month, I will feature an artist. No prizes for guessing the artist for the month of August!

Björk is a musical maestro. Full of artistic creativity, she finds the most obscure sounds and bring them to life. She can make the most tiniest vox sample herself and transform it into an orchestra. Her latest album "Medúlla" is released in Australia on 30 August. It is entirely composed of vox samples and acapella tracks. "Instruments are so over" [quote, Björk] and the only hint of traditional instruments on the album, is the gong and the piano. However, you would be hard-pressed to actually locate them. Look out for my review in the coming days.

Lyrics to Oceania

One breath away from mother Oceanía
Your nimble feet make prints in my sands
You have done good for yourselves
Since you left my wet embrace
And crawled ashore

Every boy, is a snake is a lily
Every pearl is a lynx, is a girl
Sweet like harmony made into flesh
You dance by my side children sublime

You show me continents
I see islands
You count the centuries
I blink my eyes

Hawks and sparrows race in my waters
Stingrays are floating
Across the sky
Little ones, my sons and my daughters

Your sweat is salty
I am why
I am why
I am why

Your sweat is salty
I am why
I am why
I am why