BJÖRK “Medulla” (2004)

The release of this album went completely past me somehow, although it so happened that I stumbled upon it just a week later. Being an admirer of BJÖRK’s strange soundscapes since the time she became famous with “Debut”, I bought it blindly – and without regret. “Medulla” is a typical BJÖRK-album, with beautifully arranged songs, dreamy and spherical melodies and accumulations of strange sounds and beats. All these elements per se should be enough to assure her a place in the Beyond-section at AGM, for madame Björk Guðmundsdóttir’s unique approach to music has few to none resemblances to anything else I know of. But this time, something was different.

Yes, yes, I admit – I wasn’t entirely surprised by what hit my CD-player as I suggested in the last sentence, I just wrote it for a cheap effect of suspense. I have read about BJÖRK’s next enterprise somewhere beforehand. So for anyone who hasn’t – this album consists only of vocals. I don’t refer to actual singing here, although BJÖRK does this too, obviously. I mean everything (except for a brief piano and, if I’m correct, a kind of vibraphone part or something) was done with the mouth (don’t get any wrong impressions, kids). Be it a beatbox, synths, even electro guitar, trumpet, bleeps, bings, splashes, sweeps – everything is done a capella, folks. And most of the time you don’t even recognize it as such.

Many of the songs are calm and quiet, sometimes backed with chorals; while others are very ambient with the various participients imitating electronic noises. Some are experiments on what you can do with voices, very mixed up and sometimes a bit wearing. And some represent the electro-pop to which BJÖRK always seems to come back to from album to album, only this time a capella. BJÖRK has gathered a vast amount of people to help her here: An afro-american imitating, obviously, the bass (South Park, anyone?), a japanese who is specialized in imitating guitar-solos, an inuit woman who does a very weird ritual technique (overtone-singing) practised by Inuit and in parts of Mongolia which actually sounds as if one sings two notes at the same time, and various other people from all over the world doing – well, doing whatever comes to their minds sometimes.

I suggest buying the DVD with the making of “Medulla” to understand this enterprise fully. Not only is it interesting to see how this very intriguing project was assembled, it as well contains funny scenes (such as when everyone gets carried away in some pub in Iceland to perform “Triumph Of A Heart” which has its peak when Björk slides deliberately on her belly head-first onto the street, leaving a huge scratch on her face – no, I don’t know either, please don’t ask) and some typical surreal music videos which sometimes make you think you are on another planet in another dimension. To sum it up – a worthy excursion into the strange world of BJÖRK once again.

-Tentakel P.


Release:  2004
Label:  One Little Indian
Avantgenre:  The Moon´s Choir
Duration:  45:39
Origin:  Iceland
Official site:
Review online since:  23.11.2007 / 21:24:32


01 – Pleasure Is All Mine
02 – Show Me Forgiveness
03 – Where Is The Line
04 – Vökuró
05 – Öll Birtan
06 – Who Is It
07 – Submarine
08 – Desired Constellation
09 – Oceania
10 – Sonnets / Unrealities XI
11 – Ancestors
12 – Mouth’s Cradle
13 – Miðvikudags
14 – Triumph Of A Heart

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