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Bjork: Medulla

CD Review

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If Medullawere a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, it would be subtitled " Or... Björky McFerrin and the Björkland Chorus." For an explanation, first look at the eerie album cover, featuring the perpetual fashionista wearing little more than an elaborate mask of her own woven hair. Björk draped in Björk. Then listen to a precisely crafted tune like "Midvikudage," on which the elfin Icelandic one replaces the myriad technological tinks and plonks in the background of her previous albums with recordings of her own exhalations, moans, tuneless utterances and Gremlin-noises. When willing, she sings, sing-talks and shrieks with the same halting lilt that defines all of her work, but for the most part

Medullais a total leap away from the Björk whose songs once billowed out of clubs and movie theaters. Instead, she has crafted a stark, often a capella selection of alien church hymns with all the devotional extremity that a church can entail: inspirational high notes and choral eruptions (thanks to the Icelandic and London Choirs) as well as confessional weeping and speaking in tongues.

Medulla will not win over anyone who views Björk's voice as Iceland's answer to mad cow disease, but the impartial listener will find a rewarding and surprisingly pretty album by a vocal talent at her absolute peak.

--Nicholas Collias