2000: Elektra 62533-2
Beautiful, especially breathtaking on headphones, but if youve seen the film (Dancer in the Dark) the songs arent just drenched with sorrow, theyre downright nihilistic. A great album to tip you into a depressive coma, partly because shes encased a fragile, flickering joy within each song and you hear it overwhelmed every time. Strong but so must you be if youre going to swim in these waters.
Looking beyond the pervasive veil of sorrow, the detail-rich soundscape is a fantastic delight, especially on headphones and especially on Cvalda and In the Musicals. The album and film most intimately interlink on In the Musicals, which vividly presents the little sounds which form the rhythms Selma hears that transport her into her fantasy world; the basketball, the chalk, the drumming-practice, and more are captured, distilled, and transformed into mesmerizing and beautiful vehicles for Selmas visions. Ive Seen It All and Scatterheart do the same but in more subdued and darker contexts; I personally dislike Ive Seen It All because of the shoddy performance of both vocalists (breaths breaking phrases not for effect but because they werent breathing wisely, passionless delivery, et cetera), but Scatterheart is deeply and sadly hypnotic especially in its film context.
The opening theme is somber and majestic, a gorgeous piece, and as it plays during the artistically abstract opening credits of the film it certainly is intriguing; its fulfillment in the closing track (New World) is a bit misleading on the CD, given the songs, uh, cutoff in the film, but otherwise is magnificently sweet with heavy overtones of doom, and the album version delivers a mighty closing that the films story literally cannot provide. 107 Steps I still havent come to terms with: as a track on its own its odd but impressive, in the film its surprisingly intensely moving, and considering both its mostly a sob-inducing curveball but somehow it also misses me. I think thats because of its slow and vague middle section, because the whispered tension of the opening and the tragic drama of the closing are hefty considerations.
If theres a drawback to this album, besides its overall negative plummeting, Id reluctantly say that its the fact that Björk is very much Björk here theres no prayer of dissasociating the voice unless this is the very first Björk album you ever hear; its different with the film, where shes not so obviously Björk and where all the characters are painted with a depressingly constrained palette.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.