Homogenic

Bjork

Elektra Records, 1997

http://bjork.com

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/29/1997

The little pixie's whacked.

For those who thought this year's Lilith Fair represented the cutting edge of female artists, Bjork's new album Homogenic will sound like a soundtrack for a nuclear winter.

Bjork was never comfortable doing happy, bopping songs tailor made for dance clubs. However, Homogenic represents some of the darkest material Bjork has ever put out. Even when Bjork soothes, she agitates, as in the song "All Neon Like". Her whisper, "I'll heal you," brings relief but just as you're about to kick back, she growls, "...with a razorblade/I'll cut a slit open and the luminous beam feeds you, honey!!!"

Groups like Prodigy and the Orb are taking the spotlight in the techno music craze, so you would think that Homogenic would fit in perfectly. Surprisingly, Homogenic does not fall into the techno category. Unlike last year's tepid Telegram album, most of the songs on Homogenic have some musical structure to them. Orchestral arrangements pop up as often as drum machines do on Homogenicmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , making it an uneasy balance between the dance club and Bjork's one of a kind musicianship.

Homogenic is incrediably dense, music wise. There's no butt moving throb of "Big Time Sensuality" or stand still marvels of such songs as "Isobel". That's not to say some songs on Homogenic don't have immediate appeal, they just take a bit more of exploring for the rhythms to set in. You would swear "Bachelorette" sounds like the theme song for the next James Bond movie. And for shock value, Bjork fans will no doubt jump in "Alarm Call" when Bjork sings, "I'm no fuckin' Buddhist, but this is enlightenment." Musically, "Alarm Call" is innovative by casting out a catchy beat, then letting it disappear, only to appear for a few moments thoughout the song.

Other songs are a bit harder to wade through. Bjork's work with RZA of the Wu-Tang-Clan is evident on much of Homogenic. Tracks like "Hunter" and "Unravel" manage to be menacing without being overbearing. "Hunter" also establishes a repeating theme in Bjork's albums:that of being hunted. It could be due to the recent death of one of Bjork's stalkers or it just could be something that she's interested in, who knows.

The only time that Bjork's experiments go to the unlistenable end of the music spectrum is in the song "Pluto". In a migraine-inducing bass beat, Bjork lets loose her icepick sharp trademark shrills for an entire minute. The first listen, I had to turn the volume down and came dangerously close to pushing the advance button of my remote.

Another unfortunate aspect of Homogenic is the music quality. You just can't listen to this album on a $20 RCA cassette player you got from Shopko. That's the case for ambitious albums, however. After all, does The Wall sound good on a small, portable cassette player? Homogenic sounds best in your home stereo system or in your car, if you have a really, really nice setup.

Bjork needs to be commended just for coming out with something vibrantly original in this stale year of music. However, Homogenic will not attract any new fans. Much like Tori Amos's album Boys For Pele, Homogenic is a fans album. To Bjork fans put off by Homogenic, all I say is let the album set in. You just might have the perfect winter album in your hands.

Originally this album got a B from me, just because it didn't instantly captivate me like Debut or Post did. One more listen though and I liked it more. While I'm not ready to fully give the big ol' A for this album, I would say that it's worth this grade for now (grade subject to change).

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.