Bjork
Volta


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
May 7th, 2007 | 71 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Timbaland, brass choirs, Antony Hegarty, foghorns, and Bjork. Good together.

If any human were to make a Martian soundtrack, Björk is probably one of the best bets in music today. Her eccentric, spacey voice and unique, exotic style create an aura about her. Fittingly, she titled her latest album Volta, meaning a sudden change or turn, because it seems that Björk might be landing soon. In fact, she collaborated with pop music pimp Timbaland, who met with her and worked on quite a few tracks, three of which made the album. Volta pulls in many guest artists other than Timbaland, including Antony Hegarty from the famed Antony and the Johnsons, Brian Chippendale from Lightning Bolt, and a ten-piece, all female Icelandic brass choir. Despite all the distractions, this album is pure Björk, devoid of normalcy. However, between harmonizing foghorns, alien anthems, and distorted, cynical riot songs, Volta is her most accessible album yet.

Björk announces her arrival with opening track and lead single Earth Intruders. It is the first of the three Timbaland tracks and of the three, it is the most balanced of the two artist’s tendencies. Timbaland sets a groove down his way, with dramatic, pounding ethnic percussion and creates simple background melodies with an otherworldly effect. The entire atmosphere suits the eccentricity of Björk perfectly. More than its musicality and atmospheric effect, Earth Intruders is simply a fun listen, an aspect that Timbaland brings to the table in all of his tracks. Innocence finds Björk playing to Timbaland’s style, displaying a hip-hop styled beat and accompaniment. He could have used the song template for anyone, but Björk brings a contrasting style to his. Her voice rises and falls delicately and passionately, rather than the often robotic style that Timbaland’s collaborators use to fit with his production. Hope contrasts with Innocence, finding Timbaland playing a secondary role to Björk. With subtle beats and excellent kora playing from Malian performer Toumani Diabaté, Hope possesses an airy style unlike any of the other Timbaland-produced tracks.

The collaboration with Antony Hegarty is one just as important as the one with Timbaland. They sing two duets- Dull Flame of Desire and My Juvenile. The two are a perfect match; Antony’s voice creates great contrast with Björk’s. Antony’s dark, full tone is a welcome appearance. Dull Flame of Desire features Antony more than My Juvenile, where he only makes a short appearance. It also features the ten-piece brass ensemble at their fullest extent, the only other music besides the voices and repeated percussion. The brass choir has intonation and balance issues every once in a while, mainly due to bad tuba pitch and tone, but for the most part they do a superb job. A song that clocks in at exactly seven and a half minutes, Dull Flame of Desire meanders for too long on the same idea. They could have made the song much more cohesive, a principle that also applies to much of the album. The multiple climaxes of the song, where Antony and Björk sing together with the brass regally restating the main theme are still worth the wait. They sing with a passion so true they sound like lovers.

Nearly every song on Volta features some collaborator, nothing is strictly Björk. Therefore, the strength of each track lies in the hands of the collaborator. Declare Independence is one of the few tracks that uses only Björk. She dedicated this song to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, urging them to declare independence from Denmark, utilizing the metaphor of raising their flag higher. Other than Declare Independence, the Björk-only tracks are the forgettable ones, which cause the middle of the album to sag. Volta is a strong album with memorable, remarkable tracks that have great variety, so much that the album loses cohesion.



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user ratings (459)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Rick van Veldhuizen (4)
If you put out so much masterpieces, even an excellent album feels like a disappointment....

MonstersInsideMe (4)
Volta is Bjork’s 6th LP that incorporates a mix of swishing electronic beats, giant trumpets, and ...

Dylan S. (4)
The Bjork Train just keeps pushing onward....


Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
May 7th 2007


4827 Comments


I'm really looking forward to hearing this album, all the others I've heard from her (Debut, Post and Medulla) have been great. Cover art and first single rule.
Nice job on the review as well. It seems you focused a lot on collaborators, but then it seems she did too.

Sound
May 7th 2007


3904 Comments


good review dude. to be honest i just wanted to check out the album's rating when i suddenly saw the cover; surprised it isn't a tad higher - much like Artic Monkeys newest release. It's because here in Denmark were i live, the most pupular music mag GAFFA gave Björk 6/6 and Artic Monkeys 5/6. it's not the first time i've seen this thing; when sputnik rate something high/low it's the other way round in the mag. i think it's just weird.

very good describtion of some of the tracks; definitly makes me wan't to check it out - although i have ever listened to anything from her.
This Message Edited On 07.05.07

samthebassman
May 8th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, this album is totally messed up, but whats new?

plane
Staff Reviewer
May 8th 2007


6100 Comments


I was thinking of reviewing this, but very good review. Bjork seems too good for Timbaland though; she seemed quite fine doing beats without him. But oh well, I'll get around to getting this sooner or later. I've heard Bjork's stuff on and off, so I should probably get whole albums soon, especially since the local store is having a $10 sale and I saw some of her stuff.

Sepstrup
May 8th 2007


1564 Comments


DirtyS4nch3z - It's because Gaffa sucks. I have a suspicion that they use a dice when they need to decide what rating an album gets.

Jungler, definitely check out Homogenic and Vespertine.

This comes through the mail in a few days. Can't wait. And I'm seeing her live this summer!

Sepstrup
May 8th 2007


1564 Comments


I would've reviewed it as well but I haven't even gotten my copy yet.

Sound
May 8th 2007


3904 Comments


@ Sepstrup:

Yeah, it's right. although i check it out for news and things like that, i can not agree more with you. i think of the last 50 reviews i read, i agreed with maybe 3.

btw how u know about GAFFA?...


Sepstrup
May 8th 2007


1564 Comments


I'm Danish too

The Jungler
May 8th 2007


4827 Comments


[quote=Sepstrup]Jungler, definitely check out Homogenic and Vespertine.[/quote]Yeah, I'll probably listen to Homogenic sooner or later.
This is buy only on Rhapsody

AtavanHalen
May 8th 2007


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was listening to this album this morning; I just downloaded it. Really impressive on first listen; can only get better!

Good stuff, man.

skipdog81
May 9th 2007


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Picked the album up this afternoon. Quite, quite good. Haven't determined my rating of it yet because I've only listened to it a couple times so far, but the real standouts for me at this point have to be The Dull Flame of Desire, Declare Independence, and Wanderlust - in that order.

skipdog81
May 9th 2007


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Updating from yesterday, listened to the album a couple more times, and am really liking it. Almost completely agree with the review. The collaborations are the centerpiece of the album, and the middle gets a bit bogged down, but a spectacular album none the less.

Stalusk
May 11th 2007


90 Comments


I liked her first three albums and then got a little tired of her. But this sounds really promising and a bit fresher than the last album.

any14doomsday
May 11th 2007


679 Comments


I was gonna by this but I grabbed the new earthless cd instead. Which song has Brian Chippendale ?

talk show host
May 11th 2007


18 Comments


I agree that it sags quite badly in the middle and I definitely wouldn't call it her most accessible album yet, but the Dull Flame of Desire and Earth Intruders are both excellent. Declare Independence is quite fun but it's not really a song that i'd go back to again and again.

I don't know, I was pretty disappointed overall. It's better than Medulla but a long way short of Homogenic or Vespertine.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 12th 2007


3781 Comments


Fantastic review - I'm still trying to wrap my head around Bjork in general though.

Sepstrup
May 22nd 2007


1564 Comments


This is a cool album, but mostly it makes me want to buy an Antony & the Johnsons album.

Sepstrup
May 29th 2007


1564 Comments


I think you make too much of the collaborations really. I don't think there's that much of a difference between the Timbaland-produced tracks and the tracks without him. Still a great review though.

Gyllenhaalic
August 6th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent work of one of my all-time favourite artists! VOLTA is kind of what I wanted to hear from Bjork. Something energetic, powerful and yet so sensual. I didn't like her previous efforts (MEDULLA, DRAWING RESTRAINT) that much, so I was very pleased when I first heard "Earth Intruders". Other album favourites among the lead single are "Innocence", "Wanderlust", "Vertebrae By Vertebrae" and "Declare Independance". "Hope" is the only really weak track on the record. But the rest totally fulfilled my expectations! Fabulous!

turgidson
August 8th 2007


9 Comments


I'm not sure what to rate this, but the tracks Timbaland produced are by far the best.



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