Thursday, May 19, 2005

Army of She

I've never been the hugest of Bjork fans. From as far back as her days with the Sugarcubes, I admired what she did and thought most of what I heard was pretty catchy, but I never got too excited about any of it.

Then a couple of weeks ago I came across all four volumes of her (fairly) recent collection of live albums, released individually and as a boxed set in 2003, each of which documents a tour linked to a specific studio album. (I keep meaning to write an entire entry about that phenomenon--which also includes the Brazilian tendency to follow up a studio album with a live CD of the same material, and of course the song-for-song live-album version of Pet Sounds--but that particular mini-essay will have to wait.) There's also a surprisingly thoughtful and detailed booklet-length interview (the same booklet in each disc if you buy them separately) which provides some revealing insight into Bjork's creative process, both in the studio and in concert. I had every intention of quoting some of those insights here, then ended up returning the discs to my local library before I could do it. Bad blogger! Shame, shame!

Most of the songs feature radically different arrangements than you find on the studio albums--they're richer, fuller, more surprising. Plus I really like the duo Matmos, who show up as part of the backing band on the later discs. Best of all, the CDs feel fresher than most live albums; they really stand up on their own.

I've been thinking a lot lately about live performance of older work, since that's pretty much what I'm striving to do in my current spoken-word shows (insert self-promotional reference here), and both the interview and the concert recordings have been a great source of inspiration--not that I have the resources, skill, or interest to do anything close to what Bjork pulls off, but at least I like where she's coming from.

Consider me a convert, I guess.

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