<!– Link: Björk
Björk wants to organize freedom. How Scandanavian of her.
On the first few tracks of 1998’s Homogenic, she did just that, reigning in the chaos of distorted drums thundering over dramatic swells of strings.
It was one of the most successful combination of acoustic and synthetic timbres recorded.
With Selmasongs, Björk attempts to push that sonic envelope further, bringing in Hollywood musical melodrama into her quirky mix of blue-eyed electro-pop.
Containing only seven songs and clocking in at half an hour, Selmasongs packs a lot of ideas into a short time span. The “clatter, crash, clank” of factory sounds turns into the chorus for “Cvalda.” On “Scatterheart,” the sound of a skipping phonograph needle becomes a back beat.
Even Catherine Deneuve, Björk’s co-star in Dancer in the Dark (for which Selmasongs was written), adds a dash of surrealism to the already bizzare, dream-like soundscape Björk has fashioned.
Some writers have suggested Selmasongs is too short for these ideas to gestate, and perhaps they’re right. There’s a lot of stuff — no, make that a helluvalot of stuff going on in these tracks, but they probably wouldn’t have been better or more interesting if they had more room to breathe.
If anything, Selmasongs sounds like what it is — songs written for a movie.
There’s just a hint of something incidental about these songs, and if they don’t make for a very coherent music listening experience, well that’s probably because they’re taken out of context of their origin.
In other words, let’s see how these songs work in the movie.
P.S. About her duet with Thom Yorke of Radiohead — well, his singing isn’t exactly awash with emotion, and Björk does vocal gymnastics around him. It’s not until the end of the song where Yorke’s whiskey-rasp deadpan sweetens up and becomes an appropriate foil to Björk’s thunderous range.