Something about heart-break is therapeutic to artistic geniuses likeBjörk, who've made it perfectly clear that finding happiness in sadness is really in vogue. Most of the albums I've reviewed recently are all about the death of something these artists have held close to their heart. So when the queen of experimental music announced the release of Vulnicura, her ninth studio album after Biophilia, I couldn't wait to lay my hands on it. In her own quirky way, Björk makes healing a broken heart an organic process, one that has exposed a very vulnerable yet expressive Björk.
In 30 years, Björk has produced a discography that is varied and displayed very few shades of her personal life. This new album Vulnicura is more than a personal testimony of what happened in her life; it is her way of digging deep and putting the much-needed soul in electronic music. Vulnicura is a stroll into a very painful past for the Icelandic singer; a complete 180-degrees from the futuristic and ambitious Biophilia, known for its inclusion of science in music.
The ninth album from One Little Indian Records, was leaked two months in advance and starts withStonemilker; a poetic and well-deserved jab at her partner of 11 years, Matthew Barney. Starting with an orchestrated backdrop, Björk brings the soul into electronica with her voice as she sings the chorus, "Show me emotional respect / I have emotional needs / I wish to synchronize our feelings." Only a wordsmith like Björk, can come up with wordplay that sounds like "Like milking a stone / To get you to say it" to announce that she's hurt. A must listen.
The rest of the album is followed by proclamations of a woman in love, jilted and deserted for reasons known to herself alone. On Lionsong, a very raw and rather worried Björk sings about being bothered if her man will return to her or not, declaring that she really doesn't care after all. A personal glimpse into the life of the artist, Björk's vocals on this song are layered over the beats and synths masterfully produced by herself andArca. Mind you, this album is a statement. She's sharing credits with Kanye's West's producer, Arca, but apart from his fractured beats, it is Björk's vocals that play an instrument of their own with the electronica put in it for effect. This is followed by a very short History Of Touches, documenting the physical intimacy she shared with the man over time.
It is in the over 10-minute long Black Lake, that Björk finally finds release. For a fan, this album is a departure from what most feel is techno-babble. If the singer/songwriter in Björk, hasn't sunk in yet, Black Lake will let you in on it. At the centre of the album, this concoction of intimate thoughts and notes, orchestrations and EDM laced beats difficult to piece together in the first place, bring the best Arca, The Haxan Cloak, and Björk have brought to this album. The Haxan Cloak, her other co-producer makes his presence felt in the form of slow-motion bass beats and distinct orchestrations, but it is a Björk album through and through.
The rest of the album from here takes a hopeful turn. Between lyrics of heartbreak, pain, loss, desertion and hope, Björk takes the listener to the brink of something positive but stops right at the edge. It is beautiful to see someone who's always had a different take on music get personal, but then it is difficult too. Björk's genius throughout her career has always hinged on the awkward delivery of rather bionic sounds and beats. The inclusion of technology isn't missed, but the soul she wants to put back into the genre stems from a very hurt and damaged part of her being, and it rather painful for anyone to listen to.
Vocals and beats in an uncommon time signature work best for Björk, and in the rare case where chaotic life imitates ambitious art, Vulnicura stands as a testament to the transition her very electronic sound has undergone over the past year. Don't expect notes and lyrics that have worked magic in the past; this is raw, simple and sometimes even mediocre by Björk's standards. What turns that mediocrity into excellence is the work and soul gone into it. Pick up a copy if you're heartbroken and want to take a walk on the dark side and back with Björk. She's always taken me on a journey, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Anthonie Tonnon is taking his new Extended Player and single to Australia, and to New Zealand towns that missed the first run of dates, or sold out too quickly. He’ll also be appearing at three summer festivals this February.
After a stand of three Auckland concerts that sold out in minutes in January, Connan Mockasin is hitting the road across Aotearoa for the first time in eight years this summer for a select run of headline shows.