Bjork's Cold, Icelandic Music Is Hot

Bjork - Homogenic
(Elektra Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

"If travel is searching and home has been found, I'm not stopping". So sings Icelandic alternative diva Bjork on "Hunter", the opening track on her latest emotionally charged album Homogenic. On this, her third solo release since leaving the quirky post-punk band The Sugarcubes, 31 year old Bjork Gudmundsdottir has certainly not stopped searching. Interbreeding the current sounds of ambient techno rhythms with haunting classical string arrangements along with her own distinctive, mesmerizing vocal style, Bjork has released a unique album which is a sonic collage of dark and brooding musical juxtapositions.
"Electricity and electronics should be electronic, they shouldn't try to be like a Japanese flute or violin. They should be proud of what they are", Bjork stated from a recent interview from Raygun Magazine. "I wanted Homogenic to reflect where I'm from and what I'm about. I wanted the beats to be almost distorted, imagine if there was Icelandic techno."
Bjork has succeeded in creating the musical style she imagined. Cold and distorted rhythms with bleak melodies dominate this collection. On the song "Five Years" the rhythm sounds as if it's blaring out of blown speakers which is sidekicked by a shimmering yet simple melody on keyboards. The disjointed synthesizers along with Bjork's robot-like treated voice and agonizing repetitive screams gives "Pluto" a cold out of this world feel. "All Neon Like" is her sojourn into the ambient, trip-hop music scene that is flourishing in London and New York, and on "Joga", the first single from Homogenic, Bjork sings in a bare and emotionally drenched voice as the string orchestration of the Icelandic String Octet swells and surrounds this otherwise chaotic piece with a sense of normality.
Also featured on the album are the kinetic jungle, drum-and-bass beats (a London club sound that U2 and David Bowie have used on their latest albums) that give the songs 'Hunter" and "Bachelorette" a psychotic feeling of disorder.
On Homogenic Bjork takes us to strange new places technologically, while giving us a sense of security with her warm, impassioned voice.

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