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Björk – Debut (1993) and Medúlla (2004)

July 8, 2016

NordicCountriestunesNifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming

Nordic Countries Artist #1: Björk


2 months ago, I decided to voyage (musically) to the Nordic Countries.

After a 2 month detour, it’s time to go back to Iceland/Norway/Finland/Sweden/Denmark.

Starting with Iceland’s most famous mononymous export, Björk!


[Albums 464 & 465 / 1001]

Very few artists are capable of always sounding different, yet always unmistakably like themselves.Björk-Debut-1993

The only 3 solo artists that leap to mind for me? Bowie, Beck, and Björk.

That’s some pretty elite company.

The two Björk albums I’ve been exploring, Debut & Medúlla, couldn’t be more different. Nor could they have been recorded by anyone but Ms. Guðmundsdóttir.

Debut isn’t necessarily a consistent listen, but one could argue the strange juxtapositions (like the bouncing transition from the gorgeous Like Someone in Love to the dance-floor-filling Big Time Sensuality) keep things fresh.

Medúlla on the other hand, has little in the way of standout tracks. Alternatively, some might argue that makes for a more cohesive set, an almost entirely a cappella set no less.

So what to believe?

I believe in the Community episode, Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, the speedometer on the train says it all:

Remember that scene in Spaceballs when the ship went so fast they went ‘Plaid’?

I like this update for measuring beyond light-speed in the 2000s: travelling at the speed of Björk.

She’s simply uncategorizable, a genre unto herself, but a moving target at that.

I can’t keep up, yet I won’t turn away, as I struggle to pinpoint why I’m a fan.

Thankfully, it occurred to me this week that her debut single (Human Behaviour) from her international debut album (Debut!) may offer the best answer to that riddle of what makes Björk so mysterious & marvellous.220px-Medulla

Q: What is Björk’s appeal?

A: Just replace the word “human” with “Björk”

If you ever get close to a human
And human behaviour
Be ready to get confused

There´s definitely no logic
To human behaviour
But yet so irresistible

There´s no map
To human behaviour

They´re terribly moody
Then all of a sudden turn happy
But, oh, to get involved in the exchange
Of human emotions is ever so satisfying

There´s no map
And a compass
Wouldn´t help at all

Human behaviour…

From → 1990s, 2000s

  1. Nice one, Geoff. I had the first two albums and kept hold of them for a long time, but I couldn’t fully enjoy the rest of her stuff. As winderful as it is, I find it’s more to be admired than enjoyed.

    • Thanks J – I really like that admire vs. enjoy distinction, it’s helped me make sense of a lot of these 1001 albums and why they do/don’t click with me!

      • I can imagine, Geoff. There are a lot of great, great albums, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re enjoyable. Without having looked at the 1001 properly, I’d imagine there’s a few of them in there …

      • I was thinking of that with some movies too – there are some I’ve seen that were exceptional productions that I don’t need to ever see again.
        Others that likely weren’t as acclaimed but I could watch repeatedly!

      • That’s exactly why I much prefer Home Alone to Citizen Kane. Heck, I prefer Pacific Rim to Citizen Kane!

      • Haha, Citizen Kane was a 1 & done for me, Home Alone makes an appearance at our house every Christmas!

  2. I love “Debut” but I think her subsequent albums have suffered from the law of diminishing returns and last year’s album was a real struggle. btw that substitute word game works surprisingly well you clever lad.

    • Many thanks Geoff – I initially started writing a different narrative for the review, about needing to be in the right mood for Bjork (which is still true – sometimes nothing else will suffice, others, nothing could be less fitting).

      And then as I was listening to Debut again while typing, the Bjork behaviour occurred to me and completely changed the review!

  3. Haha….your detour was a 1200 km drive …..nice read …

  4. I love that word, mononymous.

    It makes me think of Seasame Street’s Mnah Mnah.

  5. “Bowie, Beck, and Björk. That’s some pretty elite company.”

    It’s also some pretty sweet alliteration.

  6. I love Debut. Love love love. Consistent? Not always, you’re right. But it’s the imperfections that give it life.

    Medulla is not in my collection, but from the sounds of it, it needs to be! I love a challenge!

    I’m glad you dug these records. If you hadn’t, I’d tell you that if you complained once more you;d meet an army of me… hahaha:)

    • Most of my favourite records are perfectly imperfect – And certainly no complaints about Bjork ’round here!

  7. Not particularly my cup of tea for listening time, but I admire her artistry.

  8. Done a little post on her digital exhibition! Bjork is impeccable.

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