"Instruments are so over", says Björk about her latest release, Medúlla (="Marrow"). Well, I would not be so sure about that.
If you enjoy a capella and throat singing music, you might like Medúlla. But this album is as experimental (only track #14, Triumph of a Heart sounds the most commercial-ish, clubbish like) as it gets and even for Björk's fans, it will be quite the departure. It is at once obscure and obtuse, ingenious and perhaps a little too creative for its own good.
Initially, I had a hard time listening and enjoying the music fully. As hard as I tried, I just could not get into it the album's vibe. Mind you, the songs are beautifully arranged. Vokuro comes to mind.
At times, the moaning (Take for instance "Ancestors". What was that all about? A PBS soundbite on ancient Icelandic mating practices?) and bird-like sounds can get at times a bit repetitive, convoluted and distracting. But by track #8, Desired Constellation, I could no longer tell what was voice and what was instrument. Quite a feat! If only that momentum could have been sustained throughout.
Call me old fashioned but after listening to the complete album preview on MTV.com ( free streaming audio preview of the whole CD, all 14 songs in their entirety) I am happy to conclude that while this Cd is at once difficult, gorgeous, uneven and original, instruments are not over at all.
Is Björk talented and cuttting edge? Definitely. But you already knew that! Brave too. You can tell she is in a place in her career where she can and should take more risks and can afford to be a little more "out there" (which, for her, is always an understatement). Is Medúlla a must buy? I'll leave that up to you.
Release date: 08.30.04