Album Review: Björk – Volta

Björk is certainly an artist, singer, or even her personal self in general that, those who know her often love or become annoyed quickly. However, usually those who are doing something different and have a highly unique style in whatever industry they may be in, tend to be abrasive to at least some people. Granted, even “going with the flow” of music industry and producers pressures can be abrasive for some. Music is something nearly everyone has an opinion on, which is one of the things that makes it so special I think.

Björk, formally: Björk Guðmundsdóttir, got her start Iceland with The Sugarcubes until 1992. Following which, she embarked in an arguably far more successful solo career. She’s known for being very petite with a very loud mind. She has always had a strong disliking of mass media and paparazzi, internationally noticed in 1996 when she attacked a reporter who, admittedly, became too close to her child. Björk’s “Mama Bear” snuck out. In 2008, she ran into a similar incident at a New Zealand airport, versus a photographer. However, this is about the Volta album.

Björk – Volta (2007)

Björk Volta
Volta album cover courtesy of Björk.com

Tracklisting:

  • 01. earth intruders 6:14
  • 02. wanderlust 5:51
  • 03. the dull flame of desire 7:30
  • 04. innocence 4:27
  • 05. i see who you are 4:22
  • 06. vertebræ by vertebræ 5:08
  • 07. pneumonia 5:14
  • 08. hope 4:03
  • 09. declare independence 4:13
  • 10. my juvenile 4:14
Earth’s Intruders

This song starts out with an introductory beat/march that actually reminds me slightly of Rammstein’s “Links 2, 3, 4”. However, this song opens up to Björk-ish song that, even if this would be the first album you have heard from her, would quickly install that this isn’t your average “80’s” artist at all. In fact, other than sharing a decade, I’ve never heard any similarity whatsoever. “Earth’s Intruders” is a very optimistically charged song that would definitely go great with a cup of coffee in the morning..or the commute home on a Friday evening. It’s also a great sample of how versatile Björk’s voice and vocal range really is. And yes, I do believe that is a foghorn ending the song. Any other second guesses?

Wanderlust

Another single from the album, if she had been your average alternative rock artist, this song likely would have been done with an acoustic guitar. Instead, it involves a horn section over modernized house beats. Opening with:

“I am leaving this harbor
Giving urban a farewell”

Wanderlust is a very calming song about desire to transcend further than where we currently are, in my opinion.

The Dull Flame of Desire

A duet with Antony Hegarty, sounds like a perfect change that has become unlinked. Both singers exhibiting that “soul” can be in all forms of music. Other than its oddity of vocal styles, the tom-driven percussion draws in my ear and zones me into a different world.

Innocence

Following two somewhat laid-back songs, “Innocence” comes to bring a signature sound that results in me finding myself nearly head banging as if listening to a metal song. Percussion, rhythm in general, and strange vocals are Björk’s finest qualities. Best accompanied with mood lighting.

I See Who You Are

Percussionless and with a full horn section, this is by far the most mellow song on the album to this point. For this reason, I didn’t “hook” on this song as much as I tend to with other of her songs, but the song is sang quite beautifully.

Vertebrae By Vertebrae

A mix of Portishead and Nine Inch Nails (percussion) start this very abstract song. Bleeding into bass-y percussion toward the end, it stands out as the most versatile on the album.

Pneumonia

Another “soul”-filled song, almost begging and pleading. Very inspirational.

Hope

 

If “Earth Intruders” had a successor, this would be it…included with Spanish percussion and clavichord beautifully played by Björk. This again, I think is being followed by fog horns which I fully appreciate the mystery of.

Declare Independence

 

I can testify that this truly is my first listening of this album as I do this “track-by-track”. So, it is interesting that I mention Nine Inch Nails only three songs ago when “Declare Independence” sounds as if Björk and Trent Reznor bumped into one another and simultaneously said, “Let’s do something crazy!” This is one of my favorite tracks though very obviously not a quick pick for any commercial media promotion. There is almost a touch from the Melvins’ “Divorced” (a song in which they did with Tool, both entire bands).

My Juvenile

 

The album’s closer. I cannot speak for anyone else but how to open an album and close an album (that I am writing) are usually particular areas highlighted in my mind. I think most albums need, obviously at least, those two little important ingredients to be great. Clavichord by Jonas Sen, additional vocals by Antony Hegarty.

Earth Intruders single cover courtesy of Björk.com
Earth Intruders single cover courtesy of Björk.com
Wanderlust single cover courtesy of Björk.com
Wanderlust single cover courtesy of Björk.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *