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Alternative & Indie - Released November 24, 2017 | One Little Indian

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Flitting between cutting edge technologies and organic sensations (verging on physical), Vulnicura resuscitated the Björk of Homogenic and Vespertine. We saw a Björk who had rarely been so exposed, with her break-up from the video and visual artist Mathew Barney being at the heart of this heavy album from 2015, both in her lyrics and her musical architecture. To help her with her task, the Icelander was surrounded by two accomplices from the electro sphere: the British Bobby Krlic a.k.a. The Haxan Cloa and the young Venezuelan Alejandro Ghersi a.k.a. Arca. The latter is now at the heart of Utopia which was released this autumn. Though he joined Björk on Vulnicura once the songs had been written, this time round he worked with her from the start of the project to the point that Björk constantly insists in interviews that the record was entirely conceived by the two of them. Like with the worlds of Actress or Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca has always known how to mix the most cerebral corners of electronic music with the most physiological. In other words, you couldn’t find better reasons to wander the planet of Björk. Yes, wandering. That’s how you feel with Utopia. This master at the top of her game takes you by the hand with her unique voice, carrying you through multiple textures, sometimes thick and heavy, (Arisen My Senses) but also airy like never before (Blissing Me, Utopia). It is however in the more understated compositions that Björk is at her most convincing. But Arca is not the sole key element of this tenth studio album. The Icelander brings back her weapon of choice that hasn’t left her side since the age of 5: the flute! It’s a common thread in her mad and fantasizing work that cannot be fully digested in a single listening. Björk Guðmundsdóttir is no Taylor Alison Swift and Utopia proves this! © MD/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released January 26, 2015 | One Little Indian Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Never one to do things timidly, with Vulnicura Björk delivers a breakup album that doesn't just express sadness -- it immerses listeners in the total devastation of heartbreak. Starting with the album cover's wound/vulva imagery, she explores the tightly linked emotional and physical pain the end of a relationship brings with an intensity that has been missing from her music for too long. As expertly as she wedded feelings and concepts on Medúlla, Volta, and especially Biophilia, hearing her sing directly about her emotions is a galvanizing reminder of just how good she is at it. For the first time in a long time, the conceptual framework of a Björk album feels like it's in service of the feelings she needs to express, and as she traces the before, during, and after of a breakup, she links Vulnicura to the most emotionally bare parts of her discography. The clearest connection is to Homogenic's electro-orchestral drama, which she updates on "Stonemilker." The way Björk sings "emotional needs" echoes "Joga"'s "emotional landscapes" and prepares listeners for the state of emergency that she's about to throw her listeners into. On "History of Touches," she inverts the hushed intimacy of Vespertine (the album that celebrated the beginning of her relationship with artist Matthew Barney, just as this one chronicles its end) with choppy synth-strings that convey the fractured sensuality of being physically close and emotionally worlds apart. However, Vulnicura's songs are often longer and more deconstructed than either of those albums, and the involvement of co-producers Arca and Haxan Cloak (who also handled most of the mixing) ensures that this is some of Björk's darkest music yet. "Lionsong" brilliantly captures the nauseating anxiety of an uncertain relationship, its warped harmonies and teetering strings evoking a high-stakes game of "he loves me, he loves me not." Even though Björk crawls out of the abyss on the album's final third, which culminates with the relatively hopeful "Quicksand," that agonizing middle section is Vulnicura's crowning achievement and crucible. The ten-minute "Black Lake" allows Björk the space to let everything unravel, and as the strings drone and the beats tower and topple, her straightforward lyrics ("You have nothing to give/Your heart is hollow") perfectly distill the moments of purging and clarity that eventually point the way out of heartache. Here and on "Family," where Haxan Cloak's claustrophobic production makes Björk's anguish (the way she sings "sorrow" contains multitudes) all the more wrenching, the purity of her expression is both highly personal and universal. Vulnicura honors her pain and the necessary path through and away from loss with some of her bravest, most challenging, and most engaging music. ~ Heather Phares

Alternative & Indie - Released November 19, 2012 | One Little Indian Records

For the singles from her album/educational tool/multimedia app Biophilia, Björk recruited artists as distinctive, ambitious, and rule-breaking as she is to provide remixes. Spanning newer acts like Death Grips to longtime collaborators like Matthew Herbert, Bastards gathers the most striking reworkings of Biophilia's songs. Where the album had a fittingly organic flow to its meditations on nature (human and otherwise), Bastards branches out from that concept while remaining true to its essence. These tracks aren't as lacking in parentage as the collection's title suggests, but they are notably unlike each other and the album that spawned them. "Crystalline" inspired two of the best, and most different, remixes: Omar Souleyman imbues the track with his Syrian-tinged electronics, transforming the linear vocal melody into something almost unrecognizable yet entirely natural-sounding. Meanwhile, Herbert (who contributes three remixes to Bastards) adds jagged beats that mimic the raw beauty of crystal growths. While many of these reworkings expand on Biophilia's outbursts, some of the best are also the quietest. On their version of "Mutual Core," These New Puritans largely stay out of the way of Björk's powerhouse vocals, instead dropping brass and piano in and out of the track for a more subtly dynamic approach. Elsewhere, the Slips' take on "Moon" emphasizes that song's fragility, and Alva Noto's remix of "Dark Matter" makes it all the more spectral. While not every experiment here works this well, Bastards delivers the kind of envelope-pushing expected from a Björk remix album. Diehards who have all of Biophilia's singles may not need this, but it's still a fine collection in its own right. ~ Heather Phares

Electro - Released October 27, 2008 | One Little Indian Records


Pop - Released January 1, 2001 | Polydor

After cathartic statements like Homogenic, the role of Selma in Dancer in the Dark, and the film's somber companion piece, Selmasongs, it's not surprising that Björk's first album in four years is less emotionally wrenching. But Vespertine isn't so much a departure from her previous work as a culmination of the musical distance she's traveled; within songs like the subtly sensual "Hidden Place" and "Undo" are traces of Debut and Post's gentle loveliness, as well as Homogenic and Selmasongs' reflective, searching moments. Described by Björk as "about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes," Vespertine's vocals seldom rise above a whisper, the rhythms mimic heartbeats and breathing, and a pristine, music-box delicacy unites the album into a deceptively fragile, hypnotic whole. Even relatively immediate, accessible songs such as "It's Not Up to You," "Pagan Poetry," and "Unison" share a spacious serenity with the album's quietest moments. Indeed, the most intimate songs are among the most varied, from the seductively alien "Cocoon" to the dark, obsessive "An Echo, A Stain" to the fairy tale-like instrumental "Frosti." The beauty of Vespertine's subtlety may be lost on Björk fans demanding another leap like the one she made between Post and Homogenic, but like the rest of the album, its innovations are intimate and intricate. Collaborators like Matmos -- who, along with their own A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure, appear on two of 2001's best works -- contribute appropriately restrained beats crafted from shuffled cards, cracking ice, and the snap-crackle-pop of Rice Krispies; harpist Zeena Parkins' melodic and rhythmic playing adds to the postmodernly angelic air. An album singing the praises of peace and quiet, Vespertine isn't merely lovely; it proves that in Björk's hands, intimacy can be just as compelling as louder emotions. ~ Heather Phares

Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Polydor

It's hard to accuse Björk of making music influenced by commercial or critical expectations at any point in her career, but her post-Homogenic work is even more focused on following her bliss, whether that means acting and singing in Lars Von Trier's grim musical Dancer in the Dark; crafting tiptoeing laptop lullabies on Vespertine; or, in the case of Medúlla, sculpting an album out of almost nothing but singing and vocal samples. The album's title and concept refer to the purest essence of something, and Medúlla explores both the ritual power of the human voice and some of the most essential themes of Björk's music in a way that's both primal and elaborate. It took a large cast of characters to make the album's seemingly organic sound, including vocalists ranging from Icelandic and British choirs to Inuit singers to Mike Patton and Robert Wyatt; programmers like Matmos, Mark Bell, and Mark "Spike" Stent; and beatboxers such as Rahzel and the onomatopoeically named Japanese artist Dokaka. Several songs are sung in Icelandic, which works especially well, not only because it ties in with Medúlla's concept, but also because of the language's sonic qualities: the rolling Rs, guttural stops, and elongated vowels reflect the alternately chopped and soaring arrangements behind them. Neopaganism and unfettered sensuality also wind through the album, particularly on "Mouth's Cradle," along with meditative, Vespertine-like pieces such as "Desired Constellation." Medúlla is unusually intimate: Björk's voice is miked very closely, and with the dense layers of vocals surrounding her, it often sounds as if you're listening to the album from inside her larynx. Some of the heavy breathing, grunts, and ululating woven into the album come close to provoking physical reactions: the eerie sighs and throat singing on the feral "Ancestors" make the chest ache and suggest a particularly melodic pack of wolves. Meanwhile, there's something simian about Dokaka's gleeful babbling and beats on "Triumph of a Heart." Despite its gentler moments, Medúlla's raw rhythms and rarefied choral washes make it the most challenging work of Björk's career. "Where Is the Line" is one of her tough, no-nonsense songs, and Rahzel's hard-hitting beats make it starker than anything on Homogenic. Even relatively accessible songs, like the gone-native loveliness of "Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)" and "Oceania," which Björk wrote for the 2004 Athens Olympics, have an alien quality that is all the stranger considering that nearly all of their source material is human (except for the odd keyboard or two). Actually, fans of world, contemporary classical, or avant-garde music might find more to appreciate in Medúlla than anyone looking for a "Human Behaviour" or "It's Oh So Quiet." It's not an immediate album, but it is a fascinating one, especially for anyone interested in the world's oldest instrument being used in unexpected ways. [Medúlla was also released in a limited-edition digipack with a bonus poster.] ~ Heather Phares

Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2008 | One Little Indian Records


Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2005 | Polydor

Though Björk has written music for films before, her collaboration with Matthew Barney on Drawing Restraint 9 is a much deeper and more natural pairing, which makes sense, considering that they're partners in life (and now in art). Björk's pieces for the film reflect its fusions of the contemporary with the ancient, and the organic with the technological -- themes that she has dealt with in her own work, especially on later albums like Medúlla. The motif of West meeting East is also prominent in the visual and musical halves of Drawing Restraint 9: shot in Nagasaki Bay, the film depicts a pair of occidental guests (played by Barney and Björk) who visit a Japanese whaling ship and evolve into whales to escape drowning when a storm hits. Details such as costumes inspired by Shinto marriage robes, a tea ceremony, and whaling boat culture are echoed in Björk's music: Drawing Restraint 9 begins with "Gratitude," which uses Will Oldham's vulnerable vocals, a children's choir, and Zeena Parkins' harp to bring to life a 1946 letter written to General MacArthur by a Japanese citizen. Thanking the general for lifting the ban on whaling, the writer's gratitude comes from "my family and the ancient sea," underscoring the film's connections between life, death, sacrifice, and transformation. Meanwhile, the wistful "Shimenawa" and "Antarctic Return" incorporate the sho (played here by sho virtuoso Mayumi Miyata), a Japanese free-reed mouth organ that produces subtle and complex tone clusters that sound organic and ethereal at the same time. The album's climactic track, "Holographic Entrypoint," is inspired by the traditions of Noh theater; the alternately gruff and wailing vocals and wood block percussion are the essence of simplicity, and all the more powerful and eerie because they're so simple. Similarly, "Pearl" pairs the sho with heavy, primal, Medúlla-like rhythmic breathing and gasps that sometimes sound like scraping, once again showing Björk's willingness to integrate sounds that might not be conventionally beautiful into her work without diluting them. Perhaps the most striking thing about Drawing Restraint 9 is how seamlessly it blends and contrasts beauty and violence. "Ambergris March" is all sparkling, dreamy delight, while "Hunter Vessel" mixes tense, stabbing brass with reflective passages. The handful of tracks Björk sings on embody this duality as well: the layers of her vocals on "Bath" are appropriately soothing, but on "Storm," they add to the track's chaotic power. Though Drawing Restraint 9 is more expansive and abstract than Medúlla, it's in a similarly challenging and rewarding vein, and bodes well for future Björk/Barney collaborations. ~ Heather Phares

Electro - Released March 2, 2009 | One Little Indian Records


Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Polydor


Electro - Released January 1, 1995 | One Little Indian Records


Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Polydor

Recorded at various performances on her 1997-'98 tour, this live collection features Bjork backed only by her collaborator Mark Bell (on various electronic instruments) and the Icelandic String Octet. This relatively spare instrumentation allows Bjork to take her songs down slightly different paths, while retaining the heart of the studio recordings. Bjork's voice shines throughout, whether she's cutting loose on the liberating "5 Years" and the fiercely cathartic "Pluto" or gliding over the melodies of the pensive "You've Been Flirting Again" and the dreamy "All Neon Like." In addition to a handful of older songs, Bjork also includes two rarities--the jubilant, upbeat "I Go Humble" and the emotive, flamenco-tinged "So Broken"--tunes that blend seamlessly into the dynamic set.

Alternative & Indie - Released September 6, 2010 | Wellhart Ltd - One Little Indian Records Ltd


Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2009 | One Little Indian Records


Electro - Released August 4, 2008 | One Little Indian Records


Bjork in the magazine