Bjork - Utopia
The first thing that stands out when looking at this new Bjork record is just how many songs feature Arca as either producer or contributor. There is only one track that doesn't features Arca's name and when you think about it it really is a match made in heaven. Arca is doing things in electronic music that Bjork was doing early in her career, pushing boundaries and finding new and exiting forms of expression. For almost forty years Bjork has been making music and music that dives in to every nook and cranny of human expression. The experimental nature of her music can be a bit much for the normal person, Arca similarly with the pounding electronics and clangs can feel overwhelming and totally devoid of melody at times. The two together however find something really magical. Bjok is at her most demure on this record, almost like someone who is in young love, accept she knows exactly how to describe every single feeling she is experiencing in vivid detail. Utopia by far has the most love songs from a Bjork record, but also has it's fair share of taking to task abusive men. I don't think it's a coincidence that the masked face of Bjork is pictures with a flute on the album cover as it plays an essential role along with strings throughout the record. While her last record seemed to leave an open wound of heartbreak in it's wake Utopia tries to start filling that in. It is a far more hopeful record and despite it's pretty massive size never feels like it is dragging on and on save for "Body Memory" which is almost ten freaking minutes long.
With Bjork you can always expect expert craftsmanship, but this record is a whole other level even for Bjork. This record is so dense that one listen with give you an appreciation for the sounds and Bjork's always fantastic vocals, but it is the second and third listen where it starts to take shape and form. The sense of fread does make an apperance on "Losss" as Arca's standard percussion pounds away a gentle yet distorted tone plays in the background. This is the kind of stuff that gets you out of your seat and forces you to come to terms with it. The album flows so well even if the songs don't technically link up in a DJ kind of way, but the pacing and environments are damn near perfect. The later half of the record is far more aggressive and Arca stretches out more with the production, yet the flute is never lost and it finds a way to make it on to the more industrial tracks and give them a sense of lightness. The album closes with "Future Forever" where Bjork lays out her idea of a utopia. It is the most sparse track with just a synth organ but, the conclusions of finding utopia in someone else is an idea that is almost to real for music. However that is Bjork, that is what she has always done and neither time, nor anything else seems to get in the way.
9.0 out of 10