Bjork, Volta

Paul Moody

By Paul Moody

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

What with the run-ins with deranged stalkers, on-set altercations with director Lars Von Trier during the filming of 2000's Dancer in the Dark, and a harrowing trip to post-tsunami Indonesia last year in her role as UN ambassador, no one can say Björk has shirked her responsibilities over the last decade as the Queen of Oddball Pop.

A brave and beautiful album from the Queen of Oddball Pop

The solution? Enter the studio with an A-Z of avant-garde musicians from around the world and purge her demons through the medium of coruscating dance-pop. Opener "Earth Intruders" is a pounding three-way rhythmic blitzkrieg between producer Timbaland, Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale and hip percussionist Chris Corsano, over which she yells “Turmoil! Carnage!” On “Declare Independence” Congolese collective Konono No. 1 apply scrap-metal-sourced electronics which build into an extraordinary brutalist electro-barrage over which shrieks: “Start your own galaxy/ Attack the language/ Make your own flag!” A dreamy “Hope” meanwhile, wrong-foots you at every turn, alluding to “suicide bombers” over a jangle of Clavichord and free-falling beats.

After the storm, the calm: “My Juvenile” is a heart-breaking duet with Antony Hegarty, set to ancient Chinese acoustics, whilst “Dull Flame of Desire” finds the pair reunited over mournful colliery brass, entwined like lovers (“I love your eyes my dear”) whilst the world goes to wrack and ruin around them.



If the ambient thrust of Vespertine was Bjork's attempt at soundtrack heaven, Volta sees her crash-landed back on earth and squaring up to the horror and wonder of life in the 21st century.

It's brave and it's beautiful. You need to hear it.