Björk – Utopia Review

Iconic Icelandic queen of all things artistic and quirky Björk releases her tenth studio album ‘Utopia’. Continuing the path set out by her previous album 2015’s ‘Vulnicura’ tracks are laced with production from Arca, adding distorted beats and a sparseness that chills to the bone.

Described by Bjork as ‘like my tinder…it is definitely about that search – about being in love. Spending time with a person you enjoy on every level…It’s when the dream comes real.’

Things start off within a frosty air as opener ‘Arisen My Senses’ introduces the albums electronic and yet classical etherealness, guiding the way to ‘Blissing Me’s gently romantic air, in which two characters swap records as they fall in love, as well as towards ‘The Gates’ fragmented heartbreak.

Like much if ‘Utopia’ the albums title track feels as though it would fit in a modern Icelandic ballet, with flutes and distant squeals echoing baby cries and birds. ‘Body Memory’, ‘Courtship’ and ‘Losss’ continue the cold and sorrow themes that engulfed every track on the album, while ‘Sue Me’ adds a whirl of rising tension to the chilled air, though ‘Tabula Rasa’, ‘Paradisa’ and closer ‘Future Forever’ continue the flute and birdsong electronics.

According to Bjork the album is not only an emotional journey but also subtly politica; ‘if we’re gonna survive… the sort of situation the world is in today. we’re got to come up with a new plan, if we don’t have the dream, we’re just not gonna change. Especially now, this kind of dream is an emergency.’

Overall dedicated fans will find plenty to be engrossed by in within Björk’s ‘Utopia’ despite perhaps not being the most experimental of her career, as many tracks feel familiar to a repetitive level, overall there is a gentleness amongst her vocal mixed with Arca’s heavy production touch that creates a calming album.

Björk – Utopia = 6/10

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Sigur Rós – Óveður

The atmospheric post-rockers from Iceland are marking their return with another album in the works and a new single in ‘Óveður’. The song has shifting and reverberating beats and electronic chords which undulate and meander in tone. The vocals morph hauntingly around their musical setting and it makes for a song that is experimental, but I ever so haunting too. The strings in th background along with the growingly graceful vocals give the song an element of finesse to it’s fear-inducing quality. A marvel of a track.

Owen Riddle

Bjork – Vulnicura Review

The legendary Icelandic Avant-Garde artist that is Bjork, is back with her ninth studio album Vulnicura. She has been pushing boundaries and testing normality for decades now, yet here she is again with a new effort which kept the involvement of iPad apps that featured in her last album as well as working with Venezuelan producer Arca. Bjork was impressed with production for Kanye West and FKA Twigs (Two of the best produced albums in recent times). She also invited British producer The Haxan Cloak to feature in the albums production and with this in mind, it will undoubtedly be another success, but will it be as masterful as her previous efforts?

The lead track from the album is ‘Lionsong’ and it features her elastic vocal filtered through manipulations and distorted warping before emerging in a clear echo amongst solemn strings along with delicate percussion samples. It continues on this meandering and fluctuating path through the direction of her vocals and strings in unison and gradually the song is advanced by more prominent collections of percussion samples. The track is that balance between light and dark atmospheres and at times these are chained together through the percussion. A solid track by her standards. ‘Stonemilker’ features her soft edged vocals amongst the more forward and prominent strings that sweep across the far reaches of the track with a more reverberating string section rumbling beneath the other instrumentals. This makes the track a wonderfully graceful one as it lifts and soars in the chorus-like segments.

More staccato strings feature in ‘Family’ with electronic bursts and shifts breaking through them. The strings then fade out into an expansive and growing soundscape from which her vocals are the only fixation. The shimmering strings then emerge from this and the song rises in a peak of sound via these instrumentals and her vocals. Another intricate and delicate track. On the whole it’s another wondrous album from Bjork that is really given clarity by Arca’s production and collaboration with her and he brings that immediacy to her music. Music that is already full of perfectly smooth sweeps and bottomless soundscapes whether its from the smooth or meandering string sections, fluid electronica and delicate percussion. It’s another well worked and innovative album and will provide stiff opposition for album of the year in 2015.

Bjork – Vulnicura = 9/10