Friday, May 10, 2013

Björk Season: My top 25 non-romantic songs

Since July 2013 marks the 20 years of Björk's solo career, starting with the release of Debut, I thought of commemorating them by spending the months of May and June honoring such a unique artist.

First, I'll dive into the bulk of songs that are more about Björk's outrageous mind and her relationship with others that aren't romantic in nature (since romantic songs will have their own Top 25). From how humans behave to tectonic plates, there's plenty of subjects to enjoy, so let's not wait any longer and start the countdown!

25. Crystalline (Biophilia)
"I’ve sat a lot of my life in buses and taxis from 20 years of touring and somehow all these different types of intersections have gone on file in my brain. Like some have three streets meeting with very tall buildings on all sides while others are complex with like five street meeting but all buildings are low and so on… Seems like each one of the has a different mood, different spatial tension or release. Part of my obsessive nature wants to map out each intersection in the world and match it with a song… To me crystal structures seem to grow in a similar way." -Björk
It isn't a lie when I say "Crystalline" is the perfect definition of this song. Although it alludes to connections between people with a simile of crystals, this song is much more about crystals themselves. Here's a strophe that the video version omits that reinforces this:

Octagon, polygon
Pipes up an organ
Sonic branches
Murmuring drone
Crystallizing galaxies
Spread out like my fingers

But it's not only the lyrics that turn this song to a precious gem. The gameleste, the strange son of a gamelan with a celesta, marks the bulk of this song with its crystal-clear sound in a very defined progression, giving the song a backbone of amazement that is broken into a million pieces by the unexpected breakcore section at the end, with insanely fast drum beats.

24. Cover Me (Post)

The very genesis of this song is reflected in it: as Björk wanted to lure Nellee Hooper (a producer that is behind many songs of The Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, Gwen Steffani, U2, Madonna, Janet Jackson and, obviously, Björk) to produce the Post album alongside her, she lures the listener into adventures of wonder and impossibles.

This song actually has two versions, the studio version (posted above) and the original, with the vocals recorded in a bat-infested cave in the Bahamas. While the original features both a synth organ and a pipe organ played over droplets of water, the studio version features a frisky harp conjugated with mysterious ambient sounds and a titillating horn thrown in the middle. 

If you want a short and sweet song about mystery, then Cover Me is a must. 

 23. Jóga (Homogenic)
  "When I started preparing for Homogenic, it was very obviously supposed to be a love album to Iceland nature. I'd learned enough about studios and beats to make modern Icelandic pop music. I was doing a lot of experimenting with beats trying to make them sound volcanic. With this song, I really had a sort of National Anthem in mind. Not the National Anthem but certain classic Icelandic songs – very romantic, very proud."- Björk
I was undecided on whether I should place this song in this Top or not, since it could be considered a romantic song, even by Björk's word. But I decided to place it because it is directed to an inanimate entity, Iceland to be more precise.

The lyrics reflect this platonic love by the simile of a silent lover that is mostly passive and references to landscapes and the repetition of "state of emergency" (which is funny, considering Icelandic constitution doesn't have measures for such a thing).

The instrumentals must be mentioned, since it is said that this song paved the road for a genre of fusion of classical melodies with electronic beats, "baroque electronica" if you will, and it works wonderfully in this track, mixing the lovely strings with synthetic sounds that remind of rocks clashing and volcanism, a major feature of Iceland.

22. Isobel (Post)
"It's the story of Isobel. She was born in a forest, by a spark, and as she grew she realised that the pebbles on the forest floor were skyscrapers, and by the time she was a grown up woman and the skyscrapers had taken over the forest she found herself in a city and she didn't like all the people there so much because they were a bit too clever for her. She decided to send to the world all these moths that she trained to go and fly all over the world, to go inside windows of people's houses, the ones that are too clever, and they sit on their shoulders and remind them to stop being clever and start to function by their instincts. And they do that by singing 'Na, na na, na na na, na na..' to them. And they say 'Oh, sorry, I was being all clever there', and they start functioning on instinct."- Björk
This is one of the three songs where I can stand the normally cringe-worthy "na na na", "la la la" and variations of that. The others are the classic Batman intro them, because Batman, and "Guerra dos Meninos", a song by Roberto Carlos to which I have a very emotional link to. And it's the same reason that makes me tolerate that type of singing in "Guerra dos Meninos" and "Isobel": it's a representation of innocence, one of the themes of the song.

Along with appealing to a more innocent, naturalistic behavior, it also has a feminist undertone by portraying Isobel as someone self-sufficient but wanting to relate to others.

21. Hunter (Homogenic)
"I guess that song's about when you have a lot of people that work for you and you sort-of have to write songs or people get unemployed, you know? In most cases, it's inspiring but in that particular song I was pissed off with it. I was ready for a break but it didn't seem fair on the people I worked with at the time." -Björk
As you might guess from Björk's words, Hunter is a song of individuality vs community, of what the person wants vs what society expects from her/him. By using the simile of the hunter, a lonely role, Björk appeals to expansion of horizons, indolence, idealism and rebellion, while reminding that society is suspicious of such individualism and may even cast it out.

The melody enhances the message, with vocal murmurs and strings elongating to give a feeling of forlornness while the rebellious drums get an edge over the other instruments, erupting in a frenzy by the end of the song.

Finally, the video clip, directed by Paul White, transmits minimalistic but very poignant visuals: Björk alone and vulnerable (denoted by the baldness) undecided whether she gives in or not to her inner hunter (a bear, a family of animals known for being individualistic).

20. Submarine (Medúlla)

You know that Family Guy joke about how Björk sounds like gibberish? My guess is that Seth McFarlane listened to Medúlla, specially to this song and "Ancestors" and, by the rule of funny, just rolled with the apparent randomness of the sounds. But the truth is that there's an ocean of depth to this song than what might be deduced from that joke.

Water retains an ancestral connotation to lethargy and Björk uses to its full extent in this haunting acapella with the prestigious Robert Wyatt, with its drowning moans and siren-like whispers. But the theme of this song isn't lethargy; on the contrary, it's breaking from lethargy, denoted by the constant repetition of the words "do it now" and the sudden wail by Björk in the middle of the song. Is it gibberish? Absolutely, but there's a good reason behind it: it's spontaneous and breaks conventions, the antithesis of lethargy.

A vivid recommendation for those who aren't afraid of sailing into uncharted waters.

19. The Anchor Song (Debut)

We jump from a song that wants to break from watery lethargy to another that invites the listener to relax by the ocean. It's also a jump from 2004 back to 1992, when Björk was still in The Sugarcubes and presented this song, along with "Aeroplane", to Derek Birkett from One Little Indian Records (which is still Björk's label) in order to start a solo career of her own. Needless to say why I included it in this list, right?

Of course it's necessary to explain the magic behind this song. The smooth melodies from Oliver Lake's saxophone meld well with Björk's sweet vocals, creating a simple and warm jazzy ambient that evokes the scenery of being by the side of your loved one in a beach while looking at the dusk.

Sometimes the simplest of songs are the most enjoyable, and "The Anchor Song" is a prime example of such.

18. My Juvenile (Volta)

Did you know that "Submarine" and "My Juvenile" are connected by Björk's children?  While "Submarine" refers to Björk wanting to remind herself that she couldn't fall into lethargy after her daughter's birth in 2002, "My Juvenile" spawned from the fact that Björk's son, born in 1986, became an adult during the production of Volta.

"My Juvenile" is an ode to parental love and its bittersweetness, thanking the offspring for the opportunity of giving love while showing regrets when they finally leave the nest. This is beautifully portrayed by both Björk's and Antony Hegarty's warm vocals with a pinch of sorrow with the simple company of a guitar.

A song that gives warmth for parents and offspring alike.

17. Hollow (Biophilia)

"Hollow" has a 17/8 time signature and a very thriller-ish melody of drums and pipe organ with specs of an eerie choir. If that wasn't weird enough for you, the song insists on hissing various rhymes and the final segment of the song throws the listener into an Hitchcock soundtrack with the pipe organ striking sharp, unrelenting notes as if the proverbial slasher came to the scene.  It's no wonder that many people say this song isn't their cup of tea, but there's a good reason why the song is the way it is if you consider the theme. At first, it seems to be about DNA, but if you focus on the lyrics and acknowledge the ones cut from the original 7-minute version...

Listen
Now listen
Now come forth
All humanity
And from one race to all races
From one species to all species

It's about DNA's role in evolution. The simile of a necklace both alludes to DNA's double helix nature and the Aristotelian idea of the Great Chain of Being, a rudimentary perception of the origin of biodiversity that the Theory of Evolution superseded. Not only that, there are references to the geological column and ancestry by the simile of going down the trunk of DNA, digging through the increasingly older layers. The melody accentuates the theme by switching from a strict progression to mutating rhythms back and forth, demonstrating the mutability of DNA (and evolution by proxy). 

But here's the cherry on top of this song: there are subtle references to the evolutionary story of mankind, like the early references to water, reminding of how life began on it, the hissing sounds that fade as the song progresses hinting to our reptilian ancestry and the random vocalizations just before the final segment projecting an image of how our humanoid ancestors tried to speak. Speaking of the final segment, its acute strikes of pipe organ cry of urgency, which ties with the title "Hollow": aren't we, after all, transitional species and links of evolution between what was and what will be, like hollow beads letting the string pass through them from the former bead to the next?

16. 107 Steps (Selmasongs)
  1. Oh yeah, I'm counting soundtrack albums!
  2. And yes, there are more in this top list from Selmasongs, and "Storm" from Drawing Restraint 9 almost made the list (along with Post's "Isobel" and Homogenic's "Jóga")
  3. This song is played in the death row scene of "Dancer in the Dark", where Björk starts to sing and dance with convicts and even a guard. 
  4. The song starts with a very tense and cold counting of numbers by Siobhan Fallon, the actress that plays Brenda in the movie.Remember Siobhan Fallon? To think she was in "Dancer in the Dark", "Forrest Gump" and "The Negotiator", just to end up in everything related to that high-pitched demon known as Fred... what a waste.
  5. But I digress. Back to the song, Björk erupts in the track with her jovial singing, making a contrast between the human spirit and the cold reality. 
  6. This just shows that, even with lyrics entirely composed of numbers, you can get such a rich song if you make intelligent melodies and transmit so well the emotions involved through the singing.
  7. While I'd love to make 107 points, I'll leave it at 7, 7 points, ha ha ha! 

15. Cosmogony (Biophilia)
This song is the "music of the spheres" song for me... So it's all about copper and rotating things and harmony and equilibrium and the universe and where there’ s a place for every little thing and we're all taken care of.

(...)

I guess after watching documentaries about string theory, [the song] was sort of a personal joke [...] Big Bang [is] 20th Century and string theory [is] so 21st Century [...] I guess all creation myths at the time of their making were science. I’ll bet the pharaohs thought pyramids and mummies were the future – that was pretty science fiction. 3000 years later it is just mythology and the creation myth. In this song you have 4 verses. The first verse is the American native creation myth, next verse is Sanskrit creation myth, the 3rd verse is Aboriginal creation myth and the 4th verse is Big Bang theory.
I bet that, if Carl Sagan was still alive, he'd embrace this song the very second it'd play. "Cosmogony", like the title suggests, is a tribute to the universe itself, from the myths of yore to the science of today encapsulated in musica universalis in the most literal of senses. 

The lyrics might sound a little to simplistic, but that's the charm they have, of a child-like curiosity and awe at everything around us and how it came to be. But what really kicks this song up to this spot is its melody, starting with a choir crescendo, perhaps an allusion to the expansion of the universe in the Big Bang Theory, the last to be alluded in the lyrics. Then the brass section with its almost ethereal sounds, accompanied by cymbals and a choir, give the illusion of swimming in that ocean darkest that is space. Finally, the song ends with the choir howling in a descrescendo, a clear allusion to the fox myth that was the first to be alluded in the lyrics. It takes talent to weave music in such marvelous detail.

14. All is Full of Love (Homogenic)

Yes, "All is Full of Love" is about love and it can be argued it's the romantic type, but that doesn't make it a romantic song. It's actually about how someone is unable to receive love even if it's surrounding them, therefore closer to be a song about loneliness or refusal of affection due to trauma.

The coldness of such reality is enhanced by the mechanical sounds that are perpetuated through the song with the voice of Björk serving as both counterpoint and melody in the last segment, making her the only one singing despite the many voices. But, to give a glimmer of hope and organic sound in the song, a clavichord trills over the bass sounds, making a surprisingly delightful contrast between an instrument of the XVI century and the sounds of the late XX century. 

About the video produced by Chris Cunningham: lesbian robots making out. Your argument is invalid.

13. Declare Independence (Volta)

Oh boy, this song. Say what you want about Björk, but that woman has a bigger pair of cojones than most men for shouting "Free Tibet!" in freaking Shangai at the sounds of this song. Yes, she punched the Old One called China in the face! And she already pissed Serbia and Denmark over it for supporting Kosovo's, Faeroe Island's and Greenland's independence movements. That amount courage alone deserves a spot in the list.

But the really curious thing about "Declare Independence" is that Björk said Volta was a more commercial and pop-like album, and then you have this song, with its literally revolutionary lyrics and its dissonant sounds of electronic beats and heavy synths. Kind of opposite of what you'd expect of something labeled as it was from Carly Rae Jepsen or One Direction.

My recommendation is to also listen to the Voltaic version, which is a very good improvement and one of the reasons why this song ranks so high. 

12. Sun in my Mouth (Vespertine)

I like Björk and I like E.E. Cummings, so this combination is just sublime. "Sun in My Mouth" is based on the poem "I will wade out":

i will wade out
                        till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                                       Alive
                                                 with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                                       in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                                            Will i complete the mystery
                                            of my flesh
I will rise
               After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
             And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

It's kind of a sin to explain a poem instead of experiencing its prosing, but I explained the other songs so this shouldn't an exception. "Sun in My Mouth" is about self-discovery in a sexual way, but not in the raunchy way many songs nowadays do, it's in soft, innocent-like manner, which is enhanced by the soft melody of a celesta and strings.

11. Vertebræ by Vertebræ (Volta)

Sorry, but I couldn't put "Sun in My Mouth" without putting "Vertebræ by Vertebræ", they're almost opposite faces of the same coin: "Vertebræ by Vertebræ" is about sexual frustration and uses the night and adulteration of the flesh as simile (unlike "Sun in my Mouth", which uses caressing the flesh and the day as simile). Furthermore, the light celesta and strings are substituted by heavy brasses and steam sounds, creating an hostile, compressed vibe.

Speaking of steam, that's the reason why I put this song over its spiritual simbling, because it's a third simile that wraps around the theme in a neat bow. Like steam engines feel the pressure of the vapors inside of them ready to burst out, we too feel our sexuality wanting to leak out of its repression, be it intended or not. 

As a final note, this song uses samples of brass sections of Drawing Restraint 9, sharing with "Sun in My Mouth" an extraneous origin.

10. Triumph of a Heart (Medúlla)

Where do I even begin with this gem? It's like Björk woke up one day and said to herself "You know what? Fuck conventions, I'm going to sing about the heart in a literal way, hire some beatboxers to yodel and mew and call it a day!"

"Triumph of a Heart" describes in a rather visceral, but neat way of describing the bodily response to love, like the nerves sending the message of caressing, the heart pumping faster, the supra-renal glands releasing adrenaline and a faster breathing. 

Now the melody made me think for a good while. I know that Medúlla is all about voice and its sounds, beatboxing included, but why did she choose such a seemingly random beatboxing rhythm? Then it dawned on me: isn't that love, so charmingly random? After all, Luís de Camões wrote how love is so contradictory and difficult to describe in one of his most famous sonnets.

And Cthulhu bless Spike Jonze, for such a randomly cute video that features one of the beatboxers of this song, Dokaka, that spawned the "I should buy a boat" meme.

9. It's in Our Hands (Vespertine)

Sampling Gigi Mansin's "Clouds", a quite relaxing song that I vividly recommend, "It's in Our Hands" appeals to the conservation of bonds, no matter how scary they might get. 

Speaking of the sample, it is enhanced by light drumming beats sprinkled with twitching sounds and psychedelic vocaloids by the last segment, giving the impression of wandering off to the wild, pushing the message more towards environmental awareness and preservation, thankfully without the usual guilt trips and dooming tension that mark many of the songs with similar messages fall into, but rather in tone of comprehension and appreciation.

The video, also by Spike Jonze, portrays Björk, with a lovely pregnancy belly, commuting along small critters like she were but a fairy among them, appealing for the conservation of such creatures.

8. I've Seen It All (Selmasongs)

As much as I respect Peter Stormare, Radiohead's Thom Yorke takes the cake for the male voice for this duet and it's such pure delight. Like you probably already guessed, this song was also featured in "Dancer in the Dark" and this song could be pretty much be called the center piece of the soundtrack that defines the second act.

Like the title of the movie, this song is an allusion to the fact that Selma, Björk's character, is losing her sight due to an hereditary disease and is coping with it, listing what she already saw, including herself. 

This song takes place in a locomotive in the movie, explaining the mechanical sounds that erupt in the middle of the marvelous strings and piano.

7. Nature is Ancient (Family Tree)

I listed "Nature is Ancient" under Family Tree because that's when this song both became a legitimate one instead of a B-side for "Bachelorette" and received its video song. Not only that, it feels much closer to Medúlla's songs than to Homogenic's, and Family Tree came just a couple of years before the former. 

"Nature is Ancient" is like a prelude to Biophilia's "Hollow", describing how nature, in particular life, has been progressing for so many eras and still surprises us in every turn. The drowned synthetic beats gives the illusion of being near the ocean's abyss looking at its almost alien life.

The video, by Lynn Fox, furthers the notion of the music and gives it a twist, by comparing the oceanic deep to the womb, linking humans to the other lifeforms.

6. Cvalda (Salmasongs)

You might ask why, of all songs, "Cvalda" ended up so high in this top. Easy: I find it the most fun of all. It orders you to dance, have fun, laugh at the simplest joys of life even in such dismal places like a factory. 

I'll admit I'm a sucker for songs that feature classic tunes over factory-like sounds (that's one of the reasons why I say Final Fantasy VIII's soundtrack is the best of the series, despite the mediocre game it is featured in). I don't know why, it must be the contrast between the sobriety of a factory and the indolence of music. 

To give this song some context, Selma works in a factory with her friend who she nicknamed "Cvalda". When she's too bored, Selma simply daydreams with situations like they were taken from a musical theater piece.

5. Mutual Core  (Biophilia)
"Eruptions and earthquakes, the building of continents, the formation of mountain ranges and oceanic trenches, all are powerful geological signs of earth’s underlying structure and mechanics. In Mutual Core earth’s geology is transformed into a metaphor for human relationships. Opposing forces of compression and release, central to continent building and to human feelings, are expressed sonically, and in the app, by the contrast between the shifting of chords in the verse and uplifting chorus. The contrast can also be seen in the contrasting visual patterns of the animation, and is evoked by Björk’s working title for this track, ’organ plaid’, which describes an interwoven musical fabric. While the song’s themes are universal, the lyrics indicate a specific, autobiographically significant geographical region: the boundary of the north american and eurasian tectonic plates, on which sits Björk’s birthplace —Iceland." - app for Mutual Core
We break into the Top 5 with the spiritual successor to "Jóga" and Björk's latest single "Mutual Core". While "Jóga" expresses the affection of Björk for Iceland, "Mutual Core" can be interpreted as the response of Iceland to such affection by revealing its inner desires.

Iceland lies on both the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates, justifying the volcanism present in the island, and the tendency of Iceland drifting towards the American continent is reflected in the lyrics, serving as a simile to the yearning of bonding with others.

But the real kicker is the melody, starting with elongated, pompous notes of a pipe organ colliding with the quick notes of Björk's voice and a bass line of synth sounds similar to those of "Jóga", creating the image of the plates gently interacting with each other. As soon as Björk releases her potent vocals on a long note, the song shifts into an upbeat percussion section that mixes breakcore and glitch genres while Björk reaches the high notes while the choir goes into a thrilling crescendo, a cataclysm of volcanic activity that end in a climatic eruption.

The video, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, is probably one the best of Björks career. It's the love child of "Jóga" and "All is Full of Love" videos, mixing practical effects with seamless CGI into what can only be described as geological porn. The movement, the colors, the attention to details like ash fall and volcanic lightning make this one of the best music videos of these latest years.

4. Wanderlust  (Volta)
"Things go in circles. Wanderlust, for example, is a sort of continuity of 'Hyperballad'. - Björk
We already saw how many songs were connected to each other, but the most interesting is the voyage starting with the wish of breaking routines from "Hyperballad", the wish to venture into the unknown from "Wanderlust" and the wish for something powerful and transcendental of "Thunderbolt". Will this voyage continue? Who knows, but I can't wait to find out.

Speaking of the thrills of leaving behind comfort in order to get that adrenaline rush of stepping out to the unknown to explore a whole new reality with the simile of navigating the seas, "Wanderlust" strikes a note with my Portuguese heritage, nation of sailors venturing into the oceans to give new worlds to the world. Not only that, the brass section gives the song the feeling of epic adventures just waiting to be discovered, while the percussion encapsulates the thrill from doing so.

Just a note on the video, directed by Encyclopedia Pictura, has a fantastic use of stereoscopic 3D. Too bad you can't really appreciate it on a Youtube video.

3. Human Behaviour  (Debut)
"After The Sugarcubes, I guess I had a mixture of liberation and fear. It had been obvious for a while in the band that I had different tastes than the rest. That's fair enough - there's no such thing as correct taste. I wrote the melody for Human Behaviour as a kid. A lot of the melodies on Debut I wrote as a teenager and put aside because I was in punk bands and they weren't punk. The lyric is almost like a child's point of view and the video that I did with Michel Gondry was based on childhood memories."
Like they say, "there's no time like the first time" and it was by "Human Behaviour" that the world first experienced an adult, solo act by Björk and it was a very good experience.

"Human Behaviour", like the name suggests, is a reflection on how humans behave and how illogical they are, done in a rather child-like point of view, denoted by the continuous use of repetition. 

The melody, on the other hand, has a strange mix between curiosity and dystopia, with clear, catchy percussion sharing the space with heavy synth sounds, very reminiscent of early 90's music, but, considering Björk said this specific melody was created when she was still a kid, in the early 80's, you can already see the out-of-the-box thinking of Björk putting her ahead of her time. 

2. Pluto  (Homogenic)

If you wanted further proof of Björk's time-bending abilities, Björk managed to anticipate the fusion of 2-step and grime that went mainstream in 2012 by 15 whole years. The result was a bit different, though, since now such fusion comes in the form of dubstep, which, as the name indicates, includes dub, while "Pluto" is closer to electroclash. Hey, I didn't say she anticipated perfectly, which, in my opinion, is a good thing, considering dubstep has been butchered beyond recuperation by your average pop song. 

Why was dubstep butchered by mainstream, you might ask? Because the musical producers behind Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Alex Clare, Taylor Swift and others don't know how to use it. Mixing 2-step with grime, may dub or electroclash be the third element, isn't something that sounds sad, mad or in for a good time, it sounds like destruction. And "Pluto" takes full advantage of this by being the epitome of catharsis through personal destruction. The very few lyrics of the first half speak of one feeling brand new after exploding themselves and the growling screams of the second half sound like someone trying to escape his/her own body.

The melody is as abrasive as it is aggressive, like someone is both sanding the skin and maiming the flesh. When Björk either woos or screams, the melody gets more loose and unfinished, like it's anticipating the alluded explosion. And, when it does in the final yell born from Björk's deepest recesses, it prompts distant sounds over the basic melody, indicating an aftermath that the subject isn't aware, still experiencing the effects of the sanding and maiming. 

The cherry on the top of this song is that one of the very few songs that amazingly works backwards with the melody almost unchanged, turning it into a song about trying to control the urge of self-destruction. Try that with your average Bieber song, I dare you.

1. Oceania  (Medúlla)

How could I not put "Oceania" as my #1 song? This song opened the freaking Olympics. You know, before the London Olympics decided to cheapen the music featured like a 2-dollar whore? "But hey", you might say, "being featured in the Olympics doesn't make it the best song Björk has done". And I agree with you, but the thing is, it was by being featured in the Olympics that I fell in love with Björk's music. 

 

I was 16 at the time and my musical taste was, well, crap as most teenagers' are (although I already fancied Nobuo Uematsu and Bach) and when the Athens' stadium goes silent and Björk starts acapella, I was wondering "who is she?". Unlike many 90's teenagers in the US and most of Europe, we in Portugal were very ignorant of international music because MTV wasn't really a common thing to be watched by our generation and the expansion of the knowledge only kicked 2~3 years later with the emancipation of the Internet on the country and Youtube. So Björk for your average Portuguese teenager was pretty much "that Icelandic chick I never heard but people say she's weird".

But when, barely 50 seconds in, the melody kicked in, I was hooked for life. Beatbox, choirs, murmurs weaving an alien yet enticing melody, my young brain just ate it all like a starving wolf who found a new, delicious prey.


In that moment, I finally found something that I was aching for, something beyond the ordinary and ethereally beautiful. When I finally had Internet at home, two years later, one of the first things I did was to find this song and I found it, still as weirdly perfect as I remembered it.

"Oceania" preceded the oceanic simile of "Wanderlust" and the point of view by a inanimate entity of "Mutual Core" and created a song to honor the oceans by personifying them as "Mother Oceania" and have her sing her relation with humans, from the inception of life to the current treatment humans give her, weaved with blank rhymes of pure delight by Sjón, a famous Icelandic poet and novelist.



The melody pretty much encapsulates Medúlla as a whole, featuring beatboxing (by Shlomo) like in "Triumph of a Heart", murmurs reminding of the depths of the waters like in "Submarine" and a choir with its notes spliced by a computer to give the song a vibe of a uncharted underwater world. 




What more can I say that, if you still haven't discovered the wonderful world of Björk, I hope this top list of mine opens the doors.

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