Sunday, 1 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: Start Yr Engines - Bjork's "Biophilia"

I used to crush hard on the Bjork. Back in them there Nineties, when I was a student, when I was in my early twenties and the thirst for an anima was thick in my throat, I needed a dark, mysterious, Uranian figure that leapt from clifftop to church spire to skyscraper, smearing the air with an intoxicating perfume of Otherness and beautiful mania. Bjork was that anima, Jung-fans!

The music was almost consequential, the costume that The Bjork was dressed in to shield mortal eyes from her touched glory; and I treated it thusly - as glimpses of the real story that was going on underneath; aspects of the divinity. Not literally, but I could feel those same religious circuits in old bits of my brain grow hot when she was near. Like people in the Tweenties get all hot under the dog collar when they glue their eyes to an Apple store. Waiting for Steve Jobs to come back to Earth and save us from the Mayan Apocalypse.

But as with all old gods, the need for Bjork seemed to fade and the image of her faded alongwith. She became a crazy, ageing witch or a figure of fun, her mighty magical powers fading into silly "creative" cul-de-sacs. The danger had always been that she was so on-trend that the tide would pull out and leave her staked out on the sand to wither and dessicate under a negligent sun. What use her trademark techno-inflected soaring heartscapes then?

She became the Bjork that did "All So Quiet" and I hate that crypto-musical-number. But still the Bjork I loved lurked under the horizon.

The last album of hers I listened to all the way through more then once was "Medulla" in 2004, and it was great. It was given over to her voice completely, though I'm not sure if the choirs were multi-tracked versions of her own voice. Her voice itself was as close and simple as it always had been - all breath (especially the exquisite Icelandic aspirate rolling "r"'s) and echo. Then she slipped from my view again.

"Biophilia" has been out for months, I know that. I've set it absent-mindedly aside to listen to another time, as I did with music a lot back in the benighted days of 2011. Now I figure it's a good way to kick off the NooYarr.

Classic Bjork stuff, isn't it? Some of her best stuff sounds like it's been recorded in a creaking, wooden chapel in some desolate fishing village - it gives her heroic power. She stares out over stormy seas and sets herself in response to the crashing, chaotic waves. Harps, wheezy organs and trumpets rub against ominous synth noises ("Thunderbolt" in particular), 2001-style creepy choral spook (beginning of "Cosmogony") and a welcome blast of Old Skool D'n'B ("Crystalline"), which is exactly what was happening before - but seems exactly right again. At the moment: I may completely stop listening to it again. I'm a fickle slunt.

Now I know I'm getting a little carried away with my language, a little sixth-form in my appreciation; and I do enjoy getting carried away and a little sixth-form in my appreciation. But the lyrics themselves lend themselves to the legendary like self-aware library books might. There's talk of the universe being formed, of lightning strikes to the spine on a frosty coastal stand-off, of the misgivings of a sacrificial volunteer and of "shuffling around tectonic plates in my chest". It's easy for me to daub my cave-painting thoughts on the inside of an album like this.

There's a real sense of suspended time, the feeling of Christmas and New Year matches it very neatly. The last track is called "Solstice" - should've been on the Xmas playlist with Jethro Tull. There's reflection in the frozen time. Maybe she's been waiting in this frozen zone for the tide of fashions to become irrelevant, allowing her to reappear to me like a human Brigadoon.

She still seems to be looking for a big love, presumably her animus is knocking about out there somewhere. "Mutual Core" is a joyous, longing, volcanic arc of a tune. Is it wrong to want to see/hear what she and Gruff Rhys would come up with? I think they've a very similar way of stringing together ideas and words about the world and structuring their songs and they could have a mean consonant aspiration battle. Maybe they'd be a bit too similar. Two imaginative forwards playing in the hole on the edge of the box and getting in each others' flightpaths.

And it ends so beautifully suddenly. Sigh.

Man, this is one fruitily-worded spew!

Rating: Kicking out of The Pricks

1 comment:

LwLw said...

i want to listen to this now... can we start up album of the month again?