August 31, 2004


Bjork's war (Aaron Wherry, National Post, August 31st, 2004)

A relative latecomer for a 9/11-inspired artistic statement, Medulla comes long after Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Toby Keith, Madonna and all the other usual and unusual suspects have picked through the rubble for any bit of scrap they might fashion into a three-and-a-half-minute expression of defiance. As such, there should be little left for Bjork to say; little more she could possibly do that hasn't been done. But, of course, the Idea persists.

In Bjork's case, this means restraint -- at least of the sort that might force her to find new freedom -- and so Medulla is an album crafted (almost) entirely from the human voice, though it sounds nothing like what you might expect from such a premise (see Ono, Yoko). Not just a departure from her instrumentally copious last album, 2001's Vespertine, Medulla is meant as a departure from, well, everything.

"Something in me wanted to leave out civilization," she told the Independent, "to rewind to before it all happened and work out, 'Where is the human soul? What if we do without civilization and religion and patriotism, without the stuff that has gone wrong?' "

More pointedly she told The Telegraph: "This album was supposed to be a response to 9/11 and all this rubbish ... I wanted to show those gentlemen that there are still insects crawling, people jumping in swimming pools, building houses, having children, making songs and having abstract thought processes or whatever. That's at least 98% of what humans are doing out there."

Yes, but that other 2% of what they are doing is the kicker, isn’t it? Time was the debate was between conservatives who thought civilization was hard-won and easily lost and old-fashioned liberals who saw it as a mighty oak that could withstand constant pruning and grafting. Today, more and more, we confront those who view it as a blight to be extinguished.

Posted by Peter Burnet at August 31, 2004 7:03 PM

I think you're going a little overboard on this one. I read this as Bjork wanting to "do without civilization" as the artistic thesis for making a creative work. Obviously she can only do that in a metaphorical sense, but wanting to create art that is about human life outside the realm of politics and religion is not an uncommon or disgraceful goal. Would you condemn the Impressionists as nihilists?

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 31, 2004 7:19 PM

So I'd assume that based on her comments, Bjork will be covering "Don't Worry, Be Happy" om her new CD.

Posted by: John at August 31, 2004 7:20 PM

The best comment on Bjork was at the start of one of her videos when Beavis turned to Butt-Head and asked, "Is this Snoop Doggy-Dog?"

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 31, 2004 7:33 PM


Not from their paintings, but I understand that interview to have been more of a political statment than an artistic one. But then I'm getting old.

Posted by: Peter B at August 31, 2004 8:05 PM

Aaah Bjork's alright. Certainly compared to morons like Tim Robbins.

Posted by: Amos at September 1, 2004 2:10 AM