It’s Throwback Tuesday y’all! Time to give our weekly shout-out to a song that deserves some BIG-ASS props for pushing the envelope!
Elfin Icelandic chanteuse and overall super-awesomeness (and one of my fave vocalists of ALL time) Bjork unveiled the most evocative, bold, emotional and sonically mind-blowing album of her entire career in the form of ‘Homogenic’ in 1997. If there’s one album that is worthy of all your attention, then this is it.
Before I became a fan of her work, Bjork was mostly the weird screaming banshee who resided in a separate galaxy altogether. I mean you really cannot blame somebody for warming up to Janet Jackson or Madonna easily while Bjork would be the vocalist whose videos you’d wanna gawk at instead of really listening to her music. It was just a matter of time (and an intense urge to understand her chronically crazy ways), before I warmed up to Bjork’s genius, and since then it’s been a joyous adventure trying to follow her insanely crazy mind. Her 1993 English solo début ‘Debut’ and it’s 1995 follow-up ‘Post’ were both hugely successful commercially and amassed high critical acclaim globally, but it was with 1997’s ‘Homogenic’ that Bjork excelled in her craft, creating one of the most stunningly euphoric and emotionally charged albums of all time.
A stylistic departure from her previous sounds, ‘Homogenic’ was a return to her native Icelandic roots. A concoction of simple strings and abstract electronic beats, with lyrics and vocals that could melt you, this album was nothing like she (or anybody else for that matter) had ever created. Love and heartaches were the central theme of the album, and that was reflected on the now-iconic Alexander McQueen designed album cover depicting Bjork as a Geisha-warrior who, as she puts it, fought wars with love and not weapons.
From the chill inducing dramatic sweep of the first single ‘Joga’, to the absolutely lush ‘Unravel’, to the incredible video for ‘Hunter’, ‘Homogenic’ was THE sound of Bjork. And apart from ‘Joga’, the one song and video that made my jaw drop and induced MAJOR chills down my spine was the path-breaking ‘All Is Full Of Love’. Pure genius is how I would define this epicosity.
Released as the 5th and final single from the album, ‘All Is Full Of Love‘ was the first DVD-Single ever released, paving the way for other artists to pick up the trail. The heart-stoppingly lush mid-tempo track was accompanied by literally one of the greatest videos ever made. The Chris Cunningham (Madonna’s ‘Frozen’) directed clip, released in 1999, featured Bjork as a robot being assembled, while she’s crooning away to the lyrics ‘You’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of, you’ll be given love, you have to trust it. Maybe not from the sources you have poured yours. Maybe not from the directions you are staring at’. Following which another robot appears on the screen and both the robots embrace and kiss passionately on the absolutely haunting chorus. According to Bjork, “Love isn’t just about two persons. It’s everywhere around you”. How amazing was it to show inanimate objects displaying emotions? This was an utterly gorgeous visual feast that raked in major awards at the end of the year, and till date has been voted as one of the best music videos of all time. Check it out for yourself.
‘Homogenic’ was an album that represented adventure to me. The stripped down and stark nature of the album was my escapism to a style of music that was dramatic, addictive, weirdly uncomfortable yet joyous (especially on the emotionally extreme ‘Joga’, ‘All Neon Like’ and ‘Bachelorette’). And that’s what music is supposed to do for you at the end of the day. Take you to a place that you didn’t know existed in your mind.
Truly a sonic masterpiece.