The Goddess has returned. Well, okay, Goddess is a bit strong....Idoless? How about master? Well, I'll just call her Björk for the sake of objectivity. In any case, Björk has returned to us, and has unleashed yet another piece of abstract art in the form of music on the public at large. Her latest release, "Medulla" is, more or less, an a cappella album, as it demonstrates a departure from the use of instruments in any traditional sense within her music. The end result is, quite frankly, unabashedly bizarre. Even for Björk. Which, Christ knows, is saying something.
After giving "Medulla" a half dozen or so spins I've come to the paradoxically (and overtly pretentious) conclusion that it can best be described as maximal minimalism. The production here is so excellent and inventive that you forget what you're listening to is essentially an art a cappella record. Though, when you notice its sparseness, Björk's voice takes on an immediacy and unusual (particularly, for her) fragility that is a bit off putting at times.
However, I can't say that there is one song on "Medulla" that I don't like. Sure, the nearly inaccessible, "Ancestors" remains indescribable, and maybe even a little creepy. However, all through out "Medulla" you'll find things that work perfectly, and then discover elements that are altogether chilling. The truth being that the fact that they are a tad creepy doesn't mean that they aren’t still working just as perfectly. I mean, "Vokuro" is very possibly the most beautiful thing I've ever heard in my entire life. And, I swear, I'm not even exaggerating!
The album perfectly creates it's own atmosphere more expertly than any other record I've heard this year (except for the Fiery Furnaces, maybe). Tracks like, "Oceania", and, "Who Is It" portray the classic Björk still at the top of her game, while remaining no less bizarre than the rest of the disc. Other songs such as, "The Pleasure Is All Mine", and, "Where is The Line" are eerie, yet brilliant in their stellar production, and outlandish percussion choices. Every song on the album, no matter how well executed, undoubtedly contains a certain resonance that refuses to go unnoticed.
"Medulla" is challenging, jarring, mesmerizing, frustrating, and breathtakingly beautiful. And just like that piece of abstract art you may spot in a museum, you can't help but look. It's textures, and shapes call to you. It wants you too look, it begs you to.
In other words, yup she's still got it.