photo & text by nacrowe
HOMOGENIC (ELEKTRA, 1997) by BJÖRK is a magical album for me.
in high school i made what with hindsight was a FAUSTIAN bargain when i rejoined my family in KUWAIT after spending two years in WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS at a private boarding school. i had the option to stay. at that point i was over being around other students of privilege and their bullshit. i also wanted to travel again, especially INDIA. so i rejoined my family in the MIDDLE EAST and was fortunate enough to run around northern INDIA with them on a school break. that trip probably ranks in the top three trips ive ever been on (the other two are RUSSIA and CAMBODIA).
i remember watching what must have been FRENCH TV late one night that year in KUWAIT and there was special on the ICELANDIC recording artist BJÖRK (whom id never heard of). i was half awake and i dont speak FRENCH, but i remember being blown away by all the videos they showed. just the thought of "who is this?" and "how have i never heard of this person before?" fast forward a few months and my family are staying at a fort in RAJASTHAN and my brother are essentially sharing a turret. that was the setting i remember listening to HOMOGENIC in. it was like a fever dream. at one point i even had dysentery on that trip. i was completely dehydrated on one of the trip's legs to JAIPUR. it was a long bus ride that i was asleep for most of feeling horrible. in the distance i remember seeing dancing bears on the road while listening to HOMOGENIC. i was dumbfounded. turns out as we got closer there was so poor bears with rings through their noses forced to dance for tips as cars drove by. animal torture. that bummed me out, but at least i wasnt hallucinating. being in that BJÖRK headspace somehow made that seem possible.
unlike her previous albums which were more beat driven and veer more towards TRIP HOP at times, HOMOGENIC is a full orchestrated affair. songs like "JOGA," "PLUTO" and especially "BACHELORETTE" have an expansive cinematic sense about them with big, energetic crescendos and long buildups. its still very much an electronic hybrid like previous efforts, but one that is decidedly more deliberate in execution. other songs such as "HUNTER" and "ALL IS FULL OF LOVE" are more downtempo and introspective, but musically attempt to use an expansive palette of both digital and analog to orchestrate the aural equivalent of intimacy and vulnerability.
its an incredible record that still feels contemporary, much like her catalogue in general. BJÖRK always seems to be looking around for new ideas to incorporate into her sound with nothing off limits. for me the refinement of HOMOGENIC is the payoff of the jubilant experimentation of POST (ELEKTRA, 1995), her previous major effort. to my ears they are a pair and both should be looked into by anyone interested in expressive, experimental and thoroughly listenable pop music.