Björk on the album title: ‘I am always looking for words that have some sort of energy. Usually the name just comes, from a magazine or somebody says something. I had waited for years while working on the album but it didn’t come. In the lyrics there are words like “voltage” and “voodoo”, which I found to be too common somehow. I have always tried to choose titles which are kind of Latinor something, which aren’t english, which is a little funny because we europeans find latin to be sort of neutral language… But I found Volta…
I don’t recall how it came about, but I Googled it and found that it is both the name of a scientist in Italy who invented the battery, and also a river in Africa which had been built by men, and a lagoon built by men called Lake Volta. So several parts come into it. I’m not going to name anything specific, people can guess for themselves what it is. There is also a mediaeval dance with carries that name, a very funny dance which is very hard to learn. Thus, I got a lot of things in one word: a dance, a river in Africa which doesn’t work anymore, and the battery. So okay – this fits’
A quotation like this is so brilliantly typical of Björk. Somewhat unfairly, she is best known for her swan dress or being a little weird or for her psycho stalker. People often fail to see her pure musical talent, avant garde and fresh. The musical equivalent of McQueen or Tarantino. Furthermore this quirkiness is not just a gimmick, nor a ploy to try and boost record sales (ahemladygagaahem) but it is her and her genuine quirks. Bjork’s Volta is unlike any album I’ve heard before. There are irregular beats which build up throughout to a tumultuous ending. The sounds that are on the album are very obscure, like in between Earth Intruders and Wanderlust there’s a period of sluggish foghorn noises, almost animal like in their quality, though undeniably unnatural. These sorts of noises and sections resonate in me as the album plays as it creates a really atmosphere, real tense actually. My brother said he imagined it to be the sort of music a torturer would play to put the victim on edge and tempt him in to telling… There are links or parallels to these atmospheric parts in the following songs, particularly Wanderlust. Then in other cases, like the backing music for The Dull Flame of Desire, there is a warm orchestra which is something like a musical snuggle, and so the mood is completely changed again.
Next is the vocals, again unlike anybody else, distinguishable and all the better for being so. It sounds as though she has a reluctance to sing, and then a reluctance to let go of the note, which sort of adds to the ominous feeling of her music. I really love the piercing, but not too piercing sound of her voice too, and the raspy sound as well (basically just love her voice). Another something worth mentioning is her nationality, Icelandic, and the fact that English is not her mother tongue. I think that this gives the way her lyrics flow a strange and unprecedented manner, she seems to me to be singing discordantly, not quite sure when to start singing, but I think that it sounds ace.
Favvy song of the album has got to be Wanderlust. The video is amazing too. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJRiBDMfrTU) For those of you that have 3-D glasses lying around there is even a 3-D version… so cool.
Can’t finish the post without saying Biophilia is out in September and Crystalline is out already and it’s sickkkkkk! So listen to all of Volta and Crystalline guys 🙂