I can't quite pinpoint the exact time or place that I had discovered Bjork. Perhaps that was because Bjork was always a constant in my life, always there, if only by name. That is to say, I "knew" Bjork far longer than I had engaged with her music.
Once I took the time to really familiarize myself with her work and her existence, it opened up entirely new doors and perspectives -- so much so that I am having trouble trying to articulate that sentiment. At this point, it sounds very tenebrous but in all honesty, trying to demystify or explain her world takes life years I don't yet have and the knowledge I don't yet harbor. And, to be frank, I may never acquire either in the quantities needed to decode her. (Or maybe, we're never supposed to be able to digest her psyche to the fullest).
Listening to her music isn't simply listening to lyrics and melody, and perhaps that lies in the incredible complexity in the way her music is produced. This, of course, encompasses her revolutionary use of synths and machinery, but it has equal amounts to do with her lyrics. Much of her words are simple and strung together with clarity, but many songs are not without cryptic messages.
Perhaps the most appealing part of her music is the juxtaposition between her voice and her melodies. No matter the melody -- incredibly somber or airy and light -- her jarring, vulnerable voice is a constant, even if it does often reflect the anguish or awe of her lyrics/emotions.
Her work spans several decades, and it would take a long time to try to list everything, so I am choosing just a few (3, but there are layers to each) things that have really stood out to me.
1) Bjork is a style icon, hands down. While her counterparts opted for the body-con dresses, she went for bionic arms, mini-buns, swan necks (if anything, this has been parodied on MadTv), and slogan sweaters.
2) Interviews of Bjork are unlike anything else. She takes moments to pause and gather her thoughts. I want to see the inside of her head, where all of those ideas and thoughts and emotions are resting (or running?). There's a lot in there, and her explaining how a television works is a priceless example of that. First and foremost, her hunger for knowledge and her relentless curiosity for man, machine, and nature (often intertwined in her work) is enviable. The way she searches for words is amazing, especially when paired with her accent.
3) Biophilia. I was -- and still am -- hesitant about speaking just to this album given her other masterpieces, but I feel it speaks to me at the times in a way that is different from the others. What Bjork has done with this album is incredible. Each song essentially addresses an earthly or cosmic phenomenon, but in doing so she also addresses the perils of the human heart, of the mind, of the future, and of technology. In a certain "Crystalline," she sings "Internal nebula / rocks growing slow-mo / I conquer claustrophobia." The line is impactful partly because I have mild claustrophobia and partly because of her determination to live and to grow with vigor not unlike that of crystals growing in deep, dark, hard places.
Well, that's all I have! Happy Birthday, Bjork...you've changed my world.
Posted by Emma at 11/21/2013 05:17:00 PM