VIP – Judith Jamison

4 Jun 2010 – 6:12 PM Comments

Dancer VIP: Judith Jamison – Alvin Ailey former Artistic Director

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Home » 5 - Fall 07, Featured, POP CULTURE

Volta from Bjork already a classic?

Submitted by on 29 Feb 2008 – 1:23 PM Comments

Often at the heart of a great album is an uncompromising nature that sets it apart and ultimately renders it a classic, whether it be one, five, or fifteen years down the line. As with all things Bjork lately, Volta is as uncompromising as they come.

Boasting an array of collaborators, including Timbaland, Konono No. 1, Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale, and Antony Hegarty (of the Johnsons), Volta comes at you with everything from dirty beats to lush orchestration, legions of troops marching, to foghorns blowing on a sun-soaked harbor. More a patchwork of songs than the high-art, vocal-only concept of Medulla, and more organically textured than the beat-heavy Vespertine, Volta’s 10 sprawling songs tend to be more questioning than conclusive. And once this idea is accepted, the fun truly begins.Bjork has said the initial drive for the album was cabin fever,and she traveled to faraway places like Africa, Tunisia, and Jamaica to appease her restless spirit. It was from these trips that much of these songs were conceived. Like a moodier, more reflective Anchor Song,Wanderlust finds Bjork singing, Restlessness liberates me/ sets me free, over an all-female 10-piece brass section.

\Brass is a recurring theme in Volta, featured on nearly all of its tracks. OnI See Who You Are, Bjork is vulnerable and reflective as she recalls the beauty of innocence and youth. In the vein of these more organic, open-wound compositions, Volta also bears the emotionally charged colossus, The Dull Flame of Desire, featuring Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. With lyrics lifted from a poem by Fyodor Tyutchev, Bjork and Antony serenade each other in a densely arranged brass and string arrangement, tempered by a restless kick drum that eventually unleashes into a full-on drum solo. The trembling vibrato of Antony paired against Bjork’s deceptively precocious vocal makes for the duet of the year.But all is not foghorns and delicately plucked strings here; as much as Volta is an album of sincere introspection, it also comes equipped with some kick-ass, politically charged protest music. Opener Earth Intrudersfinds Bjork howling about turmoiland carnage over Timbaland’s tautly accentuated tribal beats.

And then we have the ear-slicing juggernaut Declare Independence,where Bjork screams, Damn colonists/Ignore their patronizing/Tear off their blindfolds/Open their eyes/Declare Independence/Don’t let them do that to you, over a rapid techno stomp. Ultimately, Bjork has left us with an album where we may not always find a hummable tune, but just might achieve some form of enlightenment. God love her for that.

Bruce Scott

First published in movmnt magazine “Got Fame?” Issue – Fall 2007