ittle elf Bjérk has retreated from

big bad giant Lars von Trier into a

twilight world. Vespertine, which means ‘a flower that opens in the evening’, is Bjork’s first album since her

traumatising, though Cannes Palme

For her fourth album proper BJORK has retreated from the world d’Orfward-winnrifrllg foray into acting in . . _ von rier’s powe l- its detractors of celluloid and scuence and gone back to what she knows. herself. would say manipulative and ham”

Words; MiIes Fie|der sadistic - deconstruction of the film musical Dancer In The Dark. It’s tempting - and quite sad - to imagine Bjork Gudmundsdéttir gone to earth licking her wounds.

On the disconcertineg out of phase opening track of Vespertine she whispersings about her passion and her love: ‘l’ll keep it in a hidden place’ (‘Hidden Place’ will be the album- heralding single). Track two is even more fragile-sounding, and it’s called ‘Cocoon’. And on ‘Pagan Poetry’ the intricate vocal arrangements have Bjork singing against herself thus: ‘She loves him' sings the Bjork chorus, while lead singer Bjork returns, ‘This time I’m going to keep me all too myself’.

Bjork began working on Vespertine by running away to a mountaintop hut in Iceland with only her laptop for company. There are collaborators - regulars Guy Sigsworth, Mark Bell, programmers Valgeir Sigurdsson and Marius de Vries, mixer Mark ‘Spike’ Stent and Dancer In The Dark arranger Vince Mendoza - but Vespertine remains a far more minimal piece of work than either Dancer In The Dark’s SelmaSongs or Bjork’s last studio album proper Homogenic. Not that Vespertine isn’t complex; it’s just very quiet. Where Homogenic was heavy with structural experimentation and SelmaSongs weighed down with an industrial sound that brutalised Bjork’s own vocals, her new album utilises lighter material: the micro-rhythms of San Francisco duo Matmos, just the odd sample courtesy of Oval and otherwise ethereal sounds derived from instruments including harp, music box, celeste, clavichord and choir.

Neither is Vespertine less boldly experimental than Bjork’s previous work. Snowflakes crunch underfoot, while elsewhere on the album tracks crackle and ring with digital age found sound samples: remotes, mobiles, the intemet. And on ‘Sun In My Mouth’ Bjork turns a poem by e.e. cummings into lyrics.

Vesperine might, on the first few listens, appear to be about moving towards recovery. On ‘Heirloom’ Bjérk sings, ‘I have a recurring dream/ Every time I loose my voice/ I swallow little glowing lights/My mother and son baked for me during the night’. Ultimately, though, the album is far more positive than that. In fact, it isn’t about Bjork licking her wounds at all. It’s celebratory, of solitude. ‘The album’s very much about being alone in your house,’ she says, ‘in a very quiet sort of introverted mood and you whisper.’ Try listening to Vespertine alone in your home and you'll realise that introversion isn’t always a bad thing.

ijrk began working on Vespertine by running away to a mountaintop hut in Iceland with only her laptop for company

Bjork, Vespertine (One Little Indian) mo

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