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Medulla
Medulla
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendidly Vociferous ..., 6 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Medulla (Audio CD)
What I have read in a lot of reviews for "Medulla", Bjork's first studio album in three years, is critics immediately comparing it to her 2001 masterwork, "Vespertine". This is an unfair comparison in all fairness, seeing as "Medulla" works as a reactionary affair to "Vespertine's" gorgeous soundscapes and the two albums couldn't be anymore different from each other. It is testament to the voice of each album, though, that they are indelibly Bjork's and hers alone. Another gripe about the reviews is that this is Bjork's most hard-to-listen-to album of her career ... surely something must be cleared up.
First of all, there are more recognisably-poppy songs on this CD then there were in "Vespertine". This has a lot to do with the performers and instrumentation involved ... human beatboxes do tend to urbanise and invest a commerciality into compositions more often than not. The result is a handful of Bjork's best ever pop songs. Obvious standouts include "Who Is It (Carry My Joy On The Left, My Pain On The Right)", "Mouth's Cradle" and "Triumph Of A Heart", the latter being her best arms-in-the-air example of joy-pop since "Homogenic's" "Alarm Call". And "Desired Constellation" ranks as Bjork's best ever chance to get a Christmas Number One (chances are she won't dare though).
That isn't to say that Bjork doesn't indulge her songs with a typical slant of her unique contemporary classicism. Soundscapes are created in her pieces alongside Robert Wyatt ("Submarine") and Tagaq, whose own extraordinary ability has divided critics as much as Bjork herself ... you really will either love "Ancestors" or instantly turn the CD off in disgust. Bjork's choir arrangements also help give the album an epic sweep at moments, particularly on "Vokuro" and "Sonnets/Unrealities XI", the latter being her now-mandatory E.E. Cummings homage.
The album does have its flaws, however ... Bjork's mixing and processing of the human voice into a keyboard-like signature often robs the songs of their integrity and ingenuity (listen to "Where Is The Line" and "Oceania"). Meanwhile, other tracks are so slight that you wonder why they were included in the first place other than to lengthen the running time, regardless of how typically emotionally-rapt Bjork's voice is.
And still, Bjork's voice remains the lynchpin of the whole album and carries it effortlessly through its journey. It most certainly is more of a grower than most of her albums and still contains her best compositions of popular music since "Post", something that "Vespertine" had in alarmingly short supply. Even if the more experimental tracks don't work, Bjork herself wrestles with them and turns them into something worth listening to, even if you don't like it. Another reason, and perhaps the sole reason, to buy this album, however, is the fact that there is nothing out there that sounds even remotely like it right now ... which is exactly what they said about "Vespertine" three years ago!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2008 9:19 AM BST


Bjork - Vessel [DVD]
Bjork - Vessel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bjork
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £20.28

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Have You Got The Gear!!!???", 6 Mar. 2003
This review is from: Bjork - Vessel [DVD] (DVD)
The first of Bjork's live videos to be released end up being the fifth part of her fantastic "Live DVD Series", with "Vessel" being available on VHS for nearly ten years now. Not a concert video as such but more of a personal recollection of the "Debut" tours, peppered with live performances and interview snippets with the titular chanteuse herself, as well as clips of her jamming with her bandmates (among them Leila Arab, Guy Sigsworth and Talvin Singh). Directed by Stephane Sednaoui, who directed Bjork's videos for "Big Time Sensuality" and "Possibly Maybe" as well as photographed Bjork's iconic sleeve for "Post", after original choice Jean-Baptiste Mondino pulled out, the result is a slight but utterly beguiling sift through Bjork's world of music.
The live performances are shot efficiently, but nowhere near as match the visual virtuosity of later shows, but the effect is cheerfully cheap ... with little more than a handful of players, however, Bjork's early ability to bewitch the listener is already audible. The best performances here are of "Aeroplane" and the little heard B-side "Atlantic", which has Bjork dance giddily to the tune of a lovely flute. "One Day", "Big Time Sensuality" and, of course, "Human Behaviour" also make noteworthy appearances on the set list.
The best part of the DVD, which is missing from the others in the series, is the interview snippets with Bjork where she talks about moving to London, finding her band and songwriting in general. Her best quote is when she cheekily confides that music isn't her one and only love: "I'm addicted to people too!" The deranged debauchery before "Violently Happy", also, is a sight to behold too ("Oh My GOD!!!", "Have you GOT THE GEAR!!!???"), highlighting the great company Bjork keeps herself in. And watching her jam to a car alarm in the middle of the street is a joy to witness. Certainly weaker than the other live DVDs, but still a nice little film ...


Family Tree
Family Tree
Price: £52.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but Extensive ... !, 4 Mar. 2003
This review is from: Family Tree (Audio CD)
Bjork has told recently that preparing the "Family Tree" collection, as well as the compiled-by-fans "Greatest Hits" package, was a pleasurable experience, likening it to spring cleaning ("now I have clear slates on which to build upon"). And one cannot deny Bjork's ingenuity when confronted with this six-CD box set, lovingly packaged and designed by M/M Paris and her artist friend Gabriela Fridriksdottir, which takes the listener back to Bjork's roots as a punky teenager through to the revolutionary pop icon she has become today. The lack of new material is a turn off, certainly, and the package may be too heavy an ordeal for the passive Bjork fan to enjoy fully ... but then there are others who think two-and-a-half hours of Bjork sounds like pop heaven!
There are thirty five songs in the set, adding up to at least three CDs worth of material (so the £40 price isn't so much of a misjudgement), and comes with a book containing Bjork's fondest lyrics and a "map" which explains the methodology behind the box set's construction. Five mini-CDs, each holding around 20 minutes worth of songs, are included alongside Bjork's own favourite clippings from her last five albums ("Debut", "Post", "Homogenic", "SelmaSongs" and "Vespertine") which is manifest in a regular size CD.
The mini-CDs include work with her most affectionate collaborators. The "Roots" CDs detail her development alongside punk bands KUKL ("Fuglar") and the Sugarcubes ("Ammaeli"), as well as Nellee Hooper ("Cover Me"), Zeena Parkins ("Generous Palmstroke") and Guy Sigsworth ("Mother Heroic") amongst others. She also dedicates her "Beats" CD to the work with dance pioneers Graham Massey ("The Modern Things") and Mark Bell ("I Go Humble"), who co-produced most of "Homogenic", and her "Strings" CD to the Brodksy Quartet, who enmesh recognisable classical music alongside her own string arrangements in a series of live performances. The "Hits" CD is then a culmination of all of these elements that Bjork feels she is most proudest of, or as she details in her 'map', has emphatically created "a moment of utopia on the radio".
All of the songs have their merits. The KUKL composition is amazing to listen to as a 19-year-old Bjork screams with as much clairvoyant authority as she does nearly twenty years later and the live performances with the Brodsky Quartet shouldn't disappoint fans of their wonderful remix of "Hyperballad", as found on "Telegram". The "Beats" CD gains extra points also for compiling four of Bjork's best B-sides onto one handy little CD (those left not nodding to "Karvel" or "Nature Is Ancient" should be certified dead). Admittedly, listening to all of this collection is going to take up as much time as it does effort and its without doubt that most die-hard fans have at least twenty of these songs already, but after listening to Bjork's little history lesson, there's no doubt you'll be left gagging for what she's cooking up in the next twenty-five years ... extraordinary!


Bjork - Royal Opera House [DVD] [NTSC]
Bjork - Royal Opera House [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Bjork

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the Best Concert Film Ever!, 1 Jan. 2003
An intriguing little side note to Bjork's phenomenal performance at London's Royal Opera House at the end of 2001 is that, when she proposed to perform there originally, the establishment refused ... a little deal with the BBC later secured Bjork's place in pop music history as the first pop star to perform at the highbrow venue. Although this DVD did ruffle some fan's feathers over its release date (first July, then August, then November!), it stands as the most blisteringly beautiful live concert video in the chanteuse's 'Live DVD Series' and, to be quite honest, leaves all viewers baffled as to why Bjork's offer was initially declined in the first place. Sure, her output here isn't exactly what the Royal Opera House is used to, but as she powerhouses alongside her merry band of players, her work from her four English albums strongly resonates as an operatic masterpiece in its own right.
Playing alongside gay electronica duo Matmos, contemporary harpist Zeena Parkins, an 11-piece Inuit choir, conductor Simon Lee and a 56-piece orchestra, Bjork's gorgeous soundscapes and melodies have never sounded so full of life and vitality before. The first half is dominated with songs from her 2001 masterwork "Vespertine", which saw her combine minimalist beats with swoony orchestrations and music boxes. In her eskimo boots and white dress, watching her perform "All Is Full Of Love" and "Hidden Place" is a joy to behold. The second half sees a costume change into a red thrush-style dress with bells jingling as she moves, signifying the uptempo nature of the second act. Here classics such as "Hyperballad" and "Possibly Maybe" are given more blood by the contributions from her players ... but "Human Behaviour" is the showstopper, with the heartbreaking "Joga" a close second.
Bjork's savvy also lies in her selection of cohorts for her tour; she was ably supported by the likes of Talvin Singh and Guy Sigsworth for her "Debut" days, and her collaboration with the Icelandic String Octet and Mark Bell on "Homogenic" secured a monumental string of performances all over the world (see "Cambridge 1998" DVD). But here the Icelander really outdoes herself ... Matmos' beats are subtle and off-key in their arrangements and production (see "Cocoon"), the choir are adorable in their Christmas bauble-style costumes and sing adorably too (see "Unison") and Zeena is a revelation, taking multiple duties of harp, celeste and accordian (the duet with Bjork, "Generous Palmstroke", offers the concert's sole mid-song ovation from the audience). And Simon and the orchestra duly supply the crushing string sections so predominant in Bjork's compositions (see "Joga"). All in all, a wonderful film!
DVD also comes with 40-minute documentary about the travails of touring the world with such a weighty duty and gangs of players; brown-nosing aplenty but, if you've seen the concert, it's more than wholly justified!


Bjork - Volumen Plus [DVD]
Bjork - Volumen Plus [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bjork

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Addition to the DVD Video Archive ..., 30 Dec. 2002
This review is from: Bjork - Volumen Plus [DVD] (DVD)
More than welcome is really the answer, as finally "Volumen", Bjork's first video collection containing her first fourteen (!) videos from 1993 to 1998, gets an update! Though there is also "Volumen 2" to get your mitts on (which sports twenty-one visual marvels for your optic receptors!), Bjork and her team have thought ahead for those who bought "Volumen" in its original incarnation (which sold over 500,000 copies in America alone) and have offered the bigger fan with a cheaper package of her last seven videos, including two previously unreleased on the DVD format. Owners of the DVD singles of "All Is Full Of Love", "Hidden Place", "Pagan Poetry", "Cocoon" and "It's In Our Hands" may feel a bit ripped off by the lack of new material, but being able to watch all seven continuously is a bitesize joy! And, when it comes to videos, Bjork has an incredible ability to consistently deliver.
"Alarm Call", the lost video that found its way solely on a rare Japanese edition of the original "Volumen", kicks things off colourfully before seguing into the "Vespertine" videos ... "All Is Full Of Love" (which Bjork considers as 'the first song of "Vespertine"') is a video of such visual virtuosity you cannot rip your eyeballs away; even non-fans of Bjork remain impressed at this shimmering piece of art by Chris Cunningham, this being his first serious video after the gimmicky pastiches he composed for Aphex Twin. The next three all complement their songs perfectly; "Hidden Place" is just as hypnotic as its soundtrack as "Pagan Poetry" is painfully erotic and "Cocoon" is embarrassingly intimate, and all are beautifully created.
The best are saved for last though, firstly with Bjork's second adventure with Spike Jonze for "It's In Our Hands", an adorably low-key video that always surprises on each viewing, with its pregnant chanteuse making her way through a huge forest filled with gargantuan insects, frogs and fish. Fans have already earmarked it as the continuation of the "Human Behaviour"-"Isobel"-"Bachelorette" series, which only enhances its status even more. And then there's "Nature Is Ancient" ... though Bjork isn't in it, this outdoes "All" for sheer balls and ingenuity, as single-celled organisms dance around to concieve a baby Bjork in a lovingly rendered haven. Like the collection itself: outstanding!


Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 5 [DVD] [1998]
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 5 [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Sarah Michelle Gellar
Offered by adfilms
Price: £29.95

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Excellent in Places!, 1 Nov. 2002
It's quite ironic when you think about it ... season four is always blighted by fans as the worst year in "Buffy's" seven year run so far, and despite this, it is also the only season to score some significant Emmy nominations (writing and directing for "Hush"). And so it was incredibly disappointing that this season, easily the best one besides season three, lost out, seeing as there was some incredibly good stuff from near enough everyone involved.
Best of the rest: "The Body". Joss Whedon goes all Oliver Stone on us, using editing tricks, steadicam shots, no score whatsoever and some truly amazing performances to convey the confusion and trauma that the loss of a loved one would bring. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alyson Hannigan and Emma Caulfield all shine in particular. Other good episodes include "I Was Made To Love You" (the robot girl breaks my heart!) and the blubb-fest of all blubb-fests, "The Gift".
Moot points? Well, Glory is nowhere near as poor as Adam from season four (and some of her freakout bits were quite frightening), but the whole onslaught of knights and demons needed a lot more than the last six episodes to spread itself around nicely. Amber Benson's Tara, despite getting her own episode, doesn't develop further than season four would let her (she's much better in season six) and, for all of her acting smarts, Trachtenberg confirms her Scrappy Doo status amongst the Scoobies far too often.
Otherwise ... pretty damn fine TV!


Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Offered by Beyond Electronics UK
Price: £14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Handy Compass to Navigate Her Career!, 1 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
There's no doubt that Bjork is good to her dedicated fanbase, as the creation of this retrospective CD tells. Using her formidable web-site (bjork.com), she let fans poll for one week as to what were their favourite singles from her four studio albums, from 1993's lovely "Debut" to 2001's amazing "Vespertine". Whilst the whole 'Greatest Hits' compilation idea is hardly original and has more than a whiff of cheap cash-in about it, Bjork at least gives the whole enterprise the kind of unique spin she's been giving pop music for the last nine years. As this lovingly packaged CD demonstrates ...
Fourteen of Bjork's nineteen cuts have made it to the tracklist here, alongside her new single, "It's In Our Hands". Tellingly missing however is her breakout hit "It's Oh So Quiet", her only single that reached the top 5 in the UK (albeit the only song that Bjork herself detests). However, purists will be pleased with the selection on offer here; the video version of "All Is Full Of Love" is used here, not the lesser album version, and the almighty Fluke remix of "Big Time Sensuality", as heard in the promo video, makes an indelible appearance. The rest of the songs are dutifully clipped from the albums in a fan-friendly, "no radio edits here!" vein. Though "All" polled in at number one with fans, runner-up "Hyperballad", "Pagan Poetry", "Isobel" and "Play Dead" are just as amazing.
But the happiest surprise is the new song, "It's In Our Hands", which confirms that, at 37 and after twenty-five years of creating music, Bjork isn't giving up anytime soon, which is music to all her fans' ears! And for those out there who would like to hear more from Bjork, check out the expensive-but-extensive "Family Tree" collection, which goes back to when Bjork was writing music at 15! And the drawings, which are individually numbered and based on each song, are cool too!
Well worth it!


Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Offered by Beyond Electronics UK
Price: £14.95

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Handy Compass to Navigate Her Career!, 1 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
There's no doubt that Bjork is good to her dedicated fanbase, as the creation of this retrospective CD tells. Using her formidable web-site she let fans poll for one week as to what were their favourite singles from her four studio albums, from 1993's lovely "Debut" to 2001's amazing "Vespertine". Whilst the whole 'Greatest Hits' compilation idea is hardly original and has more than a whiff of cheap cash-in about it, Bjork at least gives the whole enterprise the kind of unique spin she's been giving pop music for the last nine years. As this lovingly packaged CD demonstrates ...
Fourteen of Bjork's nineteen cuts have made it to the tracklist here, alongside her new single, "It's In Our Hands". Tellingly missing however is her breakout hit "It's Oh So Quiet", her only single that reached the top 5 in the UK (albeit the only song that Bjork herself detests). However, purists will be pleased with the selection on offer here; the video version of "All Is Full Of Love" is used here, not the lesser album version, and the almighty Fluke remix of "Big Time Sensuality", as heard in the promo video, makes an indelible appearance. The rest of the songs are dutifully clipped from the albums in a fan-friendly, "no radio edits here!" vein. Though "All" polled in at number one with fans, runner-up "Hyperballad", "Pagan Poetry", "Isobel" and "Play Dead" are just as amazing.
But the happiest surprise is the new song, "It's In Our Hands", which confirms that, at 37 and after twenty-five years of creating music, Bjork isn't giving up anytime soon, which is music to all her fans' ears! And for those out there who would like to hear more from Bjork, check out the expensive-but-extensive "Family Tree" collection, which goes back to when Bjork was writing music at 15! And the drawings, which are individually numbered and based on each song, are cool too!
Well worth it!


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