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neumu
Thursday, August 28, 2014 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive



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artist
Björk
recording
Medúlla
One Little Indian
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Björk may be exploring the sonorities of the human voice, but this isn't a folk record. She may be wailing away with Icelandic and English choirs helping her, but this isn't a choral record. She may have Rahzel of The Roots and Dokaka beatboxing away, but it isn't a hip-hop record. There might be Robert Wyatt, Mike Patton, and Tanya "Tagaq" Gillis (an Inuit throat-singer), but this isn't some avant-garde record. There's production and programming from Ensemble, Matmos, Mark Bell, and longtime Björk/Múm associate Valgier Sigurdsson, but I can't imagine anyone'll call this an electronic record. The question, then, "What the hell is Björk up to here?," is essentially rhetorical. As one of the very, very, very few artistically adventurous humans able to straddle the line between willful experimentation and actual commercial popularity, Björk is essentially unique unto herself, and so the uncomfortable uniqueness of Medúlla should hardly come as a surprise. The fifth proper longplayer for the iconic Icelandic elfin-princess is her testament to the powers, peculiarities, and flexibilities of the human vocal cords, and so all its beatboxing and throat-singing and choirs and the layers upon layers of Björkian wails are the expected currency that the album trades in. Whilst its artistic fearlessness in the face of commercial expectation is something the album should always be applauded for, once you get past the audacious high-concept conception of the compact disc, the question begs: Is this a worthwhile follow-up to Vespertine? It was on that album that Björk authored her magnum opus, distilling a distinct palette of digital-compression-friendly sounds — voice, harp, strings, gentle flickers of electronic tone — into an album whose joys can never be undersold. This disc may have a wilder sense of love-and-adventure about it, and may offer the thrills of an unpredictable ride, but, in its capriciousness and incongruousness, the thing Medúlla rarely feels like is an album.

The idea behind the record — the idea at its very conception — should serve to reduce the record to a very specific range of tones, thus ensuring a stylistic similarity. But, in wishing to explore the versatility of voice, Björk has authored an outing that can feel jarring in its shifts, exercises in hypnotic minimalism quickly giving way to banging beatbox'd beats. The disc only finds its best moment of calm — "Desired Constellation" — in the most Vespertine-ish moment herein, where the disc-skipping flickers of Ensemble's programming provide a sympathetic counter to Björk's most personal performance. It feels a little ludicrous to hold what is essentially a small black mark — this non-album/non-flowing-ness — against an otherwise noble recording, but, after making a work of art as completely and utterly profound as her last longplayer, Björk had set the bar of expectation incredibly high, judging this album against its predecessor — and not against popular music itself — being a harsh standard to measure up to. Yet, whilst Medúlla may not match her most transcendent work, Björk still transcends what "peers" in pop music she may be seen as having, her fifth album a work bravely built on delightful iconoclasm.


by Anthony Carew




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