Artist of the week: Björk
You really had to be living in another planet to be surprised by the fact that the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA) chose, as one of the core events of its 2015 program, a massive retrospective exhibition that aims to chronicle the career of an Icelandic singer, songwriter, composer, musician, actress and activist named Björk. In the last three decades, she has been one of the most important, popular and forward-looking musician of her generation with an innovative approach to singing and composition, a pioneering use of electronic beats, groundbreaking music videos, intense live performances, and, perhaps above all, an alien-like celestial voice. Make no mistake: it is simply impossible to write any history of pop music without dedicating a considerable chapter to the huge legacy of her singular and everlasting body of work.
After a successful inception of her adult career as the lead singer of Icelandic art-rock band The Sugarcubes, Björk began her tremendously successful solo career with an unbeatable series of classic albums such as Debut (1993), Post (1995), Homogenic (1997) and Vespertine (2001) that granted her 30 singles on Top 40 pop charts around the world, 14 Grammy nominations and close to 25 million albums sold globally. Though her first solo record was deeply rooted in club and dance culture, Björk steadily developed an eclectic musical style that incorporates aspects of dance, rock, trip hop, jazz, electronic, classical, experimental and avant-garde music. Besides a successful adventure in acting as Selma in Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (Best Actress Award at Cannes in 2000), she developed with the help of engineers, scientists and game designers a groundbreaking extension of her 2011’s album Biophilia that allowed an interactive exploration of humanity’s relationships to sound and the universe in order to educate its users about music theory and science.
Vulnicura, her ninth album (released two months before the initially planned date due to an internet leak) is an immersive and intense listening experience that channels the majestuous sound of Homogenic and Vespertine and the talent of producers Arca and The Haxan Cloak in order to narrate chronologically the deterioration, end and aftermath of Björk’s relationship with Matthew Barney. A breakup album has rarely sounded more brave, engaging and frighteningly intimate.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.