February 12, 2015

Björk: "Vulnicura".

The past few years have been quite productive for Björk, seeing the release of her 2011 album/iPad app Biophilia, her recent MoMA retrospective, and even contributing vocals to the first half of Death Grips' double album The Powers That B. Björk has been on a roll, and it seems that her 30 plus year career isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Vulnicura delivers what has come to be considered "textbook Björk" glitchy sequencing, sparse multi-instrumentation, and a powerfully-frail vocal aesthetic – only, this time through the eyes of a broken heart. She even goes so far as to document the months leading up to and after her break-up in the liner notes for each song. 

The instrumentation on Vulnicura is reminiscent of Homogenic and Vespertine, but never truly feels like she is retreading old ground. The strings are lush and bright, the drum beats hit with maddening precision and Björk’s vocals soar and are clearly emotionally charged. Tracks like “Stonemilker” and “Lionsong” are great examples of all these elements working together in harmony. The skittering synthesizers on “History of Touches” are a welcome change of pace from the orchestral driven openers, and constant collaborator Antony Hegarty contributes his soulful croon, adding extra emotional depth to “Atom Dance.” 

For all its love-lost charm and art pop sensibility, it unfortunately sinks with the aptly-titled closing track “Quicksand” – the weakest of the bunch, interrupting the overall cohesiveness and hindering the record from becoming a front-to-back masterpiece. 

In the past, I’ve always considered Björk to be a little outside of my listening bracket (is it the swan dress?), but after hearing this record, I feel a change upon the horizon. All eyes on Iceland. 

✭✭✩✩  |  8/10

February 9, 2015

Panda Bear: "Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper".


But not necessarily because it's awful (which it is); Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is so intellectually impotent and sonically barren, it sets one's mind adrift amidst the clouds, which at once become makeshift trampolines that ping-pong the astral body to and fro, giggling with glee like a tickled toddler. The music contained within the record's fifty-one minute span could be adequately described as some surferesque attempt at marrying Surf's Up with New Age Of Earth, for reasons unknown or unknowable.

However, maybe that's the whole point - in which case, even the concept itself is awful. Should something be said of PB meeting the grim reaper? Does this offering constitute Noah's dying dirge? Is death totally into experimental muzak? Are any of these questions even worth pondering?

Cue the nightmares.

✭✭✩✩  |  2/10

>> << <