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Examining music: Bjork's Stonemilker

Image of David by John Barrett, Text & Design by David Clark Allen

The desolate beauty of Bjork's musical 'nordic landscape' is unbearably touching.

Stonemilker - from the Vulnicura album - opens with cellos/violins, immediately establishing a melancholic 'classically derived' ambience. The song is introduced by a haunting melodic line ( recurring throughout as the main instrumental motif ) played only by cellos at first and over which Bjork sings.

As the track progresses, percussive synth designed sounds - enhanced by

expansive stereo echo/reverb effects - add simple rhythms and help to create the aural impression of music being played from within a vast, damp cavern ( of the heart? ).

'Channeling' a universal child - expressing fear, wonder, curiosity, impishness

( rather like Loki, a mythical Norse deity no doubt Bjork's familiar with, i.e.: the wonderful masks she wears on stage ) and delivered with a raw tremulous quality - Bjork's vocal performance is vulnerable/open . . . yet always underpinned by a solid, fierce determination expressed through her rhythmic cadences.

The recording techniques are masterful - in particular, the orchestral instruments - captured with a sharp, biting presence. 'Air', added in juxtaposition with deep low energy 'punch', has been used to expand the frequency range, imbuing the track with a widescreen/HD sound.

The 'mastering' has also been applied with great care and empathy for the specific

requirements of the material - the empathetic use of compression/limiting producing a sense of barely restrained power combined with industry standard volume that still retains the dynamic sense of light, shade and delicacy this track needs.

Much has been written about the personal circumstances that informed this album but despite the emotional storm that influenced the creation of Vulnicura, Bjork has chosen to bare her feelings with clarity and honesty. Her lyrics are magnificently poetic - poignant and fierce at the same time.

All these things contribute to making this music that will continue to stay with me.

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