Homogenic (Björk, 1997)


Björk is one of those revolutionary artists who finds peace in unconventionality - something which is a lost art and has resulted in a plastic age of materialism.

She doesn't settle. 

She doesn't adhere.

She screams into the wind.

With her 1997 release, "Homogenic", the Icelandic songstress with a heart of fire unleashed ten bombastic audio soundscapes for her ever-devoted fans. Swirling arrangements and lush orchestral touches compliment her finely manicured vocals, which fantasize, play and express explosive rage. The album opens with the throbbing, primal "Hunter", an energetic number still performed on tour to this day. Electric staccatos and beautifully mutated strings wrap themselves around Björk's teasing voice before being blown into the stratosphere with the searing, powerful chorus.

While I fully recommend listening to the full album in one listen as it tells an engaging story of love, suffering and contemplation, there are certainly some standout tracks deserving of at least a portion of your attention. "Unravel" is a haunting, raw and expressive ballad of Björk's innermost feelings, and is regarded by many (including Radiohead's Thom Yorke) as one of their favourite all-time songs. "5 Years" bears the equivalent energy of thunderclaps bombarding a rain-lashed jungle, with heavy feet stomping through mud under the canopy with the same energy as children in their first snowfall.

"Joga" is a call home, yearning for the shores of Iceland and affirming the power of natural beauty, expressed with echoing vocals and epic string arrangements. The track was also co-written by poet Sjón, a longtime collaborator with the singer. Then, there is "All Neon Like", with its playful electro-chirping and swishing synths that evoke a soothing atmosphere, and the crackling "Pluto", which achieves the polar opposite as each incoming electronic bleep explodes in cascading force before being overcome itself by Björk's scream-addled vocals. The track is a work of art in itself, serving as a nearly overwhelming crescendo of distortion and magmatic expressionism.

After all of this, the album closes with the whimsical "All Is Full Of Love", a thoughtful and heartfelt proclamation that love is "all around you" in every being in every form, given a more radio-friendly treatment in the video below. Through the music videos released during this album era, Björk elevated her creative expressionism and, honestly, one-upped herself. The videos of this period are stunning, visceral pieces that are a complete about-face to other popular music videos.

"Homogenic" was created during a stressful time for Björk. Her relationship with Goldie had ended, and a stalker previously upset at her relationship yet unknowing of it ending had attempted to mail an explosive device to Björk in September 1996. Scotland Yard were notified after the stalker had committed suicide, intercepted a package at a London post office and discovered a hallowed-out book that would explode, then either killing of horribly disfiguring Björk with sulphuric acid. She became increasingly private afterwards, but her music never suffered as a result. "Homogenic" releasing in 1997 with such a powerful overall theme of love is the true art; it demonstrates Björk's ability to see past pain and suffering towards prospective horizons. The overall theme of this album, in retrospective, is undying love, in every form without barriers. It is very likely that Björk's experiences during the recording and writing period had a profound influence, yet with all of the hardship and difficulty at that time, the Icelandic singer birthed an innocently beautiful and shameless musical journey.