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Bjork Bares Her Soul With Her Heartbreaking Masterpiece ‘Vulnicura’

Bjork shows us what it is like to to turn heartache in to beauty, on her latest album ‘Vulnicura’.

Source : Album Artwork

With every painful experience we as human beings go through in our lives, these are alternatively followed by a light at the end of the tunnel. In musical terms some of the best works to have ever graced our ears have been the outpouring of tortured genius, the sonic aftermath of a tragic experience, or at times a means of artistic and emotional catharsis in the most fragile and elegant of ways.

Vulnicura (latin) – ‘Cure for Wounds’. The combining of the terms ‘vulnus’ and ‘cura’.

For these two most simple and delicate words combine to declare the title of electronic music pioneer Bjork‘s emotive new album.

Unfortunately, Vulnicura was rush-released before its planned date in March due to (you guessed it) someone deciding to leak the album before its proposed date – which would have coincided with an exclusive exhibition regarding Bjork’s career at the Museum Of Modern Art. Alas, these things seemingly happen for a reason, and if anything the early release of Bjork’s latest masterpiece only seems to have worked in her favour by sending even the toughest of music critics in to a frenzy of excitement and wonder.

Digressing slightly, the concept behind Vulnicura revolves around the emotional and at times painful expressionism that Bjork faced in the wake of her breakup with long-term partner Matthew Barney. But the results which are committed to recording, rank as some of Bjork’s most moving and powerful material since 1997’s Homogenic, particularly her lyrical output. Take for example the brutally honest yet heartbreaking content of the song ‘Black Lake‘ :

‘I did it for love, I honoured my feelings / You betrayed your own heart, corrupted that organ / Family always was our secret, mutual mission / Which you abandoned / You have nothing to give, your heart is hollow, I’m drowned in sorrows / No hope in sight of ever recover / Eternal pain and horrors’

The lyrical content throughout this album is that of poetic genius, yet soul-baring fragility that Bjork has never expressed on such a deep and personal level in her career. It makes for some captivating listening, especially with the incredible musical direction.

The string arrangements on Vulnicura are absolutely sublime. In fact, Bjork actually arranged the entire strings section as a means of distraction to keep her mind from her recent heartbreak, and the outcome is nothing short of magnificent.  It adds a truly wondrous classical feel to the ethereal sonic soundscapes and beats that combine to make this album two steps ahead in terms of musical innovation, when compared to 90% of electronic music that is coming out today.

The production on this album also needs to be mentioned to high regard. Whilst Bjork does produce her own music, on this album she teamed up with Venezuelan producer Arca after hearing his work through her management. The results are once again, nothing short of magnificent, and really compliment the musical output in every facet. Capturing the ambience, frailty, and wonder that Bjork puts in to her own music, Arca has truly understood just what makes Bjork’s sound so innovative, and his co-production input is but yet another jewel in his already growing crown.

Two particular highlights of this album come in the guise of lead single ‘Stonemilker‘, which borders more so along the musical lines of evocative trip-hop, and really sets the tone for Vulnicura. A breathtaking and mesmerising way to open up any album in every sense. Following this, the ten minute long ‘Black Lake‘ could arguably be one of the most personal songs Bjork has ever written. An epic composition of experimental ambient glitch, minor key string arrangements that lure and provoke the emotions out of the listener, and some of the most tragic and submissive lyrics she has ever penned to date.

Bar all the emotional input and incredible music output, it is even tougher of a job to try and find any critical fault with this album. Perhaps if there was any form of criticism that could be said regarding Vulnicura, it would be regarding its brevity. Whilst the album does clock in at a generous 58 minutes long, it is only but nine songs long. One can guess that when you are an appreciative listener of such music, that you just cannot get enough. But in this rare case, there is only so much catharsis one individual can take in order to produce a work of such beauty. Additionally, one of the only other criticisms that this album could face would be in regards to new listeners. For some it may be a little too experimental, but at the same time Vulnicura is an album that requires multiple listens in order to take in every single last drop of emotion, commitment, and devotion that can really be appreciated.

Bjork is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most incredible artists of out time. Dare we even say that she is one of the most enigmatic and captivating musical geniuses to have ever graced electronic and experimental music. Not only has she further proved to be a vital figure within the music industry with her latest release, but she also exposes a more personal side to her unlike we have ever seen. Dropping the mystery and intrigue surrounding her, making us feel that much more connected to her than we probably ever have done. On Vulnicura she shows us what it is like to be human, that it is acceptable to express your emotions and feelings, and that with every heartache there is an introspective reward to be had that will enlighten the soul, and touch the hearts of millions of others who are willing to hear. A sheer masterpiece.

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