Top 10: Medulla

Recently I was tagged on Facebook for one of those things where you post favourite albums

There’s a lot to admire about Bjork and I’ve chosen her and this album to represent a number of influences.

When I first saw Bjork she was squeezed between The Smashing Pumpkins and The Ramones at the 1994 Big Day Out.

It still seems like a weird spot for her and I wandered in and out of that set but it was clear something new was coming to the surface.

Her album Debut had some airplay on Triple J and it was my first introduction to Nellee Hooper’s influence, since it’d be a couple more years before I listened to Massive Attack and Sinead O’Connor but also the trip-hop of Portishead.

Bjork worked with a number of interesting producers and managed to get a cohesive result, just look at how ‘Army Of Me’ and ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ both sit on the first side of the album Post.

These collaborations between artists and producers are a dialectic central to popular music and, in many ways, it’s a formula I enjoy hearing in singers like Madonna and Kylie Minogue too.

Many popular singers get dismissed as record label products but those that build a career seem to be able to maintain a firm grasp on their image and material.

Madonna has a reputation for being present throughout the recording process and it seems clear that Bjork occupies a role overseeing the realisation of her albums.

I’ve picked Medulla because it seems Bjork’s album where she enforced a strict artistic vision with both her collaborators and her audience.

The album is almost entirely a cappella and manages to fuse both her taste in Warp Records-style electronica (particularly Mark Bell) and composers like Arvo Part, who’d she introduced me to musically.

The track ‘Where is the Line’ demonstrates those influences, for example.

Her voice sounds incredible on this album, particularly intimate and the recording is faultless.

I also love this album for ‘Triumph of a Heart’ and there are other themes which seem connected and optimistic.

Bjork has often been marginalised as “weird” but I adore her varied influences and abilities at realising challenging ideas in music.