Björk's new album Vespertine (pronounced: "vesper-teen") was released on August 28, 2001, although there were slight regional differences on when. A premature version was leaked onto the Gnutella network by an anonymous source before the official release, probably by a journalist who received a promo CD.

The official tracks are:
  1. Hidden Place
  2. Cocoon
  3. It's Not Up to You
  4. Undo
  5. Pagan Poetry
  6. Frosti
  7. Aurora
  8. An Echo, a Stain
  9. Sun in My Mouth
  10. Heirloom
  11. Harm of Will
  12. Unison
The lyrics, slightly different from the leaked ones, can all be found here:
Previous solo albums by Björk include: Debut, Post, Telegram, Homogenic, Selmasongs.
Vespertine was a four-year on-and-off project for Björk, built on dozens of casual collaborations with various friends. Yes, it's got a 60-person choir and a 60-piece orchestra, but most of the work went into small details: All beats on the album are created without drums or a traditional drum machine.

Instead, Björk recorded all manner of found sounds and distilled them down to their percussive essence. "I wanted microbeats -- 20 different beats in each song that faded in out out. It was like embroidery, and it took ages to do," she told MC2 magazine. The idea was to avoid the commanding, blocky beats of pop music and replace them with flexible, changing, whispery voices of percussion.

By "found sound," I mean she recorded whatever was around -- insect noises, or a spoon clinking on a cup, or her shoes crunching in the snow (the latter is what makes the "snare drum" sound on the track "Aurora"). She collected all manner of sounds on DATs and Minidisks, later processing them into usable percussion. For example -- the duo Matmos, who collect the various beats for the album, used a camera shutter for "Unison." They chopped the sound into tiny insect-like chirps and then fed them through into a sampler, where they used the sound to produce a stuttery percussion line. In most cases, there's no way for the casual listener to undistill the sounds and figure out where they came from -- and that was part of the point, Björk says.

By the way -- on top of all that percussion is an album's worth of gorgeous, sweeping, heartbreaking music.

The album was released in August 2001 after a three-month delay.

Source: MC2 magazine, Sept./Oct. 2001

Björk's newest release is somewhat of a return to the more sparse arrangements of her appropriately titled Debut, but merged with the orchestral and choral sound of Selmasongs. If anything, her singing is highlighted by the lack of dense accompaniments such as those found on Homogenic. Her voice sounds more organic in its new habitat- freer, wild. She sighs and wispers, growls and gurgles, releasing bursts of energy in vocal explosions of emotion.

An example of this new style at its best is the song "It's Not Up To You," a bubbling melody that provides the perfect balance between Björk's mostly unaccompanied vocals and flowing orchestra and harp. This balance continues on the tracks "Pagan Poetry" and "Unison-" easily the three highlights of the album. Another high point is "Frosti," Björk's first instrumental track, if one discounts various remixes. Even though the point is usually Björk's vocals, the track provides a nice short interlude in the middle of the record.

The rest of the album is pleasant enough lyrically and musically to merit a high assessment, but does not stand up to the best Björk offers. For example, the track "Heirloom" offers too little compelling musical background, and goes on a bit too long, with a change in the viewpoint from first to second person doubling the length of the song- but Björk's angelic voice makes its length forgivable. This is basically the case with even the musically lackluster of the songs; Björk's voice soothes the savage beast within the cold, dark heart of the critic.

So now I can't wait for winter- I haven't mentioned it yet, but this is a winter album- an album that deserves a snow covered view, a hot cocoa, and thoughts of love. Sue me if that sounds maudlin, but I'm sure you'll agree once you hear it.

Ves"per*tine (?), a. [L. vespertinus. See Vesper.]


Of or pertaining to the evening; happening or being in the evening.


2. Bot.

Blossoming in the evening.


© Webster 1913.

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