Real-Time Review of Björk’s Vulnicura Upon Initial Listening



Björk’s new album Vulnicura (co-produced by Arca—who I think is pretty awesome as a solo artist) just came out and I was thinking of doing a review for it, but I didn’t want to do a typical review in the “this album sounds just like so-and-so or that album blah blah blah hear me name-drop galore-athon” way. So I got the idea for the following post from doing something similar for (the now sadly defunct) Kitchen Sink.

Basically, I decided to write whatever came to me as I listened to the album for the first time ever. In doing this, I think I may have written something closer to the actual experience of listening to something vs. thinking about listening to something… or it’s all a fun momentary gimmick. Or both. Whatever, here:

1. “Stonemilker”

refined walking, slowly stepping in tasteful gown/classical runway
stretch of bare leg erupting out of satin textures rippling gently in soft breeze
bobbing in warm milk
shake the tambourine you clean hippie
sepia tone scene of pastoral pixelated landscape
the cool white with fingertips grazing
tympani enters
double bass walks with authoritative grace
a ballet of stocky dense muscle
the turn of spreading fabric
sinuous unveiling
romantic eyegaze doesn’t feel saccharine


2. “Lionsong”
breath between barbershop selves
stalk your prey at night
shoulder blades cut across the dark of your back
remember something that once comforted
crawl then slither through still lake surface
pleasure in slow bloodletting
heteronormative lyrics
wish to meet yourself in the other
the gears of your bone joints rusting and hammering
the machine of you beneath
quicken your pace light patter of feet
stop in free fall
remember something that vaguely terrified after comforting
smiling teeth bared jaw opening the close of eyes the widening darkness welcoming you
enjoy lack of vocals


3. “History of Touches”
sexual sensation lyrics with stuttering stilted imagery barely progressing video
it sticks to itself and suddenly plays normally
synth organ breathing, hyperventilating
hold your breath
chain of hands in hands in hands
warmth and cold taking the warmth


4. “Black Lake”
viola stage lone singer in padded room
what acoustic closeness! wouldn’t be achievable alive
eulogy that never happened
the drone of bows across violin wires, legato
heartbeats that aren’t in beat with actual heartbeats
mimics the militaristic percussion throughout
pattern making out of
she spins in place slowly
centrifugal forces keep her upright
singing like whispering
lips articulate through ear canal
tongue curl vowel formation
dancehall bass with quartet and looped synth voice
syncopated tribal across an open plain sunset or rising
gallop slowing
she stops
no she doesn’t
muted electric steel drumming
looped violin chord sustained
galloping across again
galloping in a circle
galloping anyway
where’s the room? it disappeared between her vocal cords
synth and violin sine wave
the rolled guttural r of it
flayed layering skin falling atop each other stacking quietly float slowly downward
barely vibrato
barely visible
hardly any pressure from bowstring


5. “Family”
stomp on the empty casket
ringing in your ears laser scanning emptiness
glowing reproduction
low bass of writhing maggots
slowly rising out of hot tar covering
it’s not another song
insistent cello floating corpse through space
tremolo glow
celestial trappings the tar hardens in the vacuum of whiteness
rising further
expansion and rolled r’s
glow outward
radiation that lulls you to death
angelic versions of you welcome you now
gradients of color awash your skin
echo of “corpse” over and over
tenderness that cuts through all matter thickness density planar flattened to some looped eternal chord
you are sound
you are the 1st, the 3rd, the 5th
synth accordion, the electronic breath continuous at rest


6. “Notget”
vaguely asian harmonies
analog to digital orchestral arrangements
militaristic percussion, again an urgency that is never met
when we broke up it felt like death and then I experienced actual death of you and it wasn’t death
harmonize with yourself at the eponymous lyric
intergalactic bamboo plants growing rapidly amidst starry darkness
vibrating self static radio silence isn’t really silent
unsafe self
geisha self bowing to geisha self in mirrored rooms that reflect each other endlessly


7. “Atom Dance”
pizzicato violin
militaristic march/waltz
spreading ourselves apart
“nerve” as a common lyric that’s returned to
a seascape of falling oblivion you can dance in free fall
puff into smoke upon collapse
harmonize with yourself
a computer chorus whispers
Antony and the Johnsons interrupt
it’s not a different song
the dripping skin tremolo beneath
Hue are you?
the pull apart of sex
understanding lyrics isn’t essential
slow motion glass fragment radiation, the spread of it
waves overlapping singing loss


8. “Mouth Mantra”
arm yourself with knives
cut/stab across your own body
the rapid incisions, barely leaking, not just yet
the zip/revving of some cosmic chainsaw that never runs
the chainsaw that would separate yourselves
fastest acupuncturist ever
instead of autotune, the quartet swells with your voice
vaguely locomotive
vaguely rotor/table saw
spinning slowly
icing fractals across your face
dead staring eyes, clinical
there are times the violins sound fake
the chorus of you
very treble/soft insistent bass
feel groundless
dripping echo crystalline organ
the surgeon is the organist


9. “Quicksand”
the cymbals could be sand
syncopated singing
she is a sinking spaceboat
she is in love with her own image as performance
space/time bent like dying flowers
enter broken fake orchestra


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