Björk — Medúlla
(Elektra 62984-2, 2004, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01For a supposed “pop” artist, Icelandic singer Björk has shown a stubborn disregard for the conventions of pop music. From the beginnings of her career as a techno diva, she has steadily pursued her muse wherever it takes her, from eccentric electronica to live strings and harp coupled with experimental electronics. On each successive release, she moves farther from the mainstream, or (as I see it) farther into her own world of sounds. 2004 finds her almost entirely discarding instruments, both real and electronic, in favor of the human voice. The result is like no a cappella music ever created. There are elements of some known vocal styles, from Gregorian chant to barbershop harmonies to Ginasteralike clusters (remember the obelisk music in 2001?) to human beatbox rhythms, but the end result is unique. Björk’s collaborators include singers as diverse as Robert Wyatt, the London and Icelandic Choirs, Rahzel (of the Roots), the expermintal duo Matmos, and Japanese vocal chameleon Dokaka (best known in the prog community for his vocal-only interpretations of King Crimson tunes). Voices blow in and out of the arrangements like flakes in a snowstorm, harmonizing lushly, making odd noises, pure then treated, moaning and sighing then soaring is beautiful melodies. The lyrics are mostly in English, with a few pieces in Icelandic contributing to the other-worldly mood. Regardless of her history of hit singles (though it’s hard to imagine one here), Björk remains startlingly original, one of the true innovators of our time.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more