Björk

Utopia

One Little Indian

Nov 22, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Björk is Björk is Björk: that is to say, even as far back as her salad days fronting avant-punk aliens KUKL, there's been no mistaking her for anybody else, and no possible way of burying her magnetism and charisma in the mix. She makes Big Artmassive and shiny like Lady Gaga, but with some of the conceptual weight of art world heavies like Marina Abramović or her ex-beau Matthew Barneywhich may or may not be to everyone's taste, but there's no denying its individuality or clarity of vision. The downside of this is that, with her complete control on the final product, she's long had a habit of underutilizing equally brilliant collaborators, from Robert Wyatt to Chris Corsano to Matmos. The strength of her personality, to say nothing of that singular voice, tends to steamroll just about anyone its path, which surely suits her stickiest adherents just fine, but it can leave fairweather fans (yours truly among them) wishing she'd lighten the kung fu grip a little and let those collaborators give their level best to the final product.

It's to her credit, then, that Utopia shows Björk's first tentative strides towards doing just that. Though still undeniably her record, co-producer Arca is given greater power behind the boards than any previous collaborator, dragging proceedings into his granular, crackling sound world with an impunity heretofore unseen. This is made doubly interesting for what Björk brings to the table this time (beyond what she always brings, I mean): namely, more flutes than a sixth grade concert band (she assembled the flute orchestra herself) and Hamrahlíðarkórinn, a full Icelandic choir. Rather than try to make this unusual electro-acoustic combo feel seamless, the two seemingly work to exaggerate the seams, making things that are acoustically impossible out of organic sources without trying to hide that that's what they're doing.

Utopia, for all its new tricks and ideas, still sounds very much like a Björk record, meaning it will neither disappoint her dedicated base nor catch the casually interested much off guard. Still, if you're hungry for it, there's plenty here on which to chew. (www.bjork.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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matteo
November 22nd 2017
1:01pm

Wow. You didn’t mention a single song by name. And after two paragraphs of table setting you conclude that it sounds like a Bjork record. What a terrible review.

Luca
November 23rd 2017
12:31am

Horrible review… nothing about the album…and then, naming Lady Gaga in an article about Björk is a shame