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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Björk -- Debut


There was a time I think I was in love with Björk. Don't worry, my wife doesn't have anything to be concerned about. I was a teenager, and Bjork wasn't pushing fifty. Yes, this was a different era, the President was from Arkansas, Napster wasn't even born, and Björk wasn't PUSHING FIFTY. How the heck is she now almost fifty? How am I so old? WAHHH!!!
Anyway, that time has long passed, and even back then, Björk's Debut was half a decade old. The song that led me to her like the smell of pie on a windowsill was "Hyperballad," which is still an album away, so now it's time to make sense of Björk's 18-year-old freshman album (if you don't count that stuff she recorded as a child...I don't).
The lead-in, "Human Behavior," is still one of Björk's most well known songs, and for good reason. Björk has one of the most distinctive voices in the world, one thousands have failed to describe aptly. I won't try here, though I can say it feels like butterflies fluttering around in and hollowing out your chest. If Björk was simply paired with standard pop music, her voice wouldn't make as big a difference. It's the innovative sounds she's had behind her that have propelled her into greatness. There is a sense of something new, yet there's also a sense of history involved, coming out in "Human Behavior" through the ancient, crackly orchestral cue that pops up and swiftly disappears 1:58 seconds into the song. Also, there was a weird video:

What's strange is that the second track, "Crying," is conventional, dated, early 90's dance music, and it isn't the only track of its kind on Debut. Every other track on the first half is disappointingly like this, surrounding the excellent (I know surely written about me) "Venus as a Boy," which because of its prominent use in Luc Besson's film, The Professional (THANK YOU LUC BESSON!), was some of my first Björk exposure. Thankfully, conventionality isn't the case with the final five tracks.
"One Day" sounds like a good dream. "Aeroplane" is jungle jazz music, animal noises intact. "Come to Me" is another dreamy song from somewhere past the end of time, and contains more orchestral input, the organic settling cozily with the technological. "Violently Happy" is sadly a return to the more basic dance sound, but is completely subversed by the lyrics. "The Anchor Song" is a fine ending, a duet between Björk and a bunch of NPR ready horns.
Overall, Debut is a bit more down to Earth than one would expect given Björk's later, celestial works. That said, it's still a varied listen, contains plenty of great songs, and well displays the timeless, unmatched quality of the various patterns of sound soaring skyward from somewhere beneath Björk's lips.

1993 Elektra
1. Human Behaviour 4:12
2. Crying 4:49
3. Venus as a Boy 4:41
4. There's More to Life Than This 3:21
5. Like Someone in Love 4:33
6. Big Time Sensuality 3:56
7. One Day 5:24
8. Aeroplane 3:54
9. Come to Me 4:55
10. Violently Happy 4:58
11. The Anchor Song 3:32

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