The Joup Friday Album: Bjork ‘Vespertine’

Vespertine by Bjork

Cover of Bjork’s 2001 album Vespertine

I’m no synaesthete, but this album sort of sounds like intermittent sunshine over a beautiful deserted landscape.” I’m unable to attribute that quote to its originator having seen it as a tag on Last.fm, simply seconding the motion for lack of anything to rival it. I can come within touching distance of a million different mental images to describe this album every time I listen, but they’re mostly better left unsculpted. We do a lot of dancing about architecture on this site, but its always in furtherance of appealing for people to visit the places we’ve mentally vacationed courtesy of the Artist in question, and I don’t use that descriptive noun lightly when it comes to God and man’s daughter Bjork Gudmundsdottir.

At 1995’s Reading Festival I sought a cure for my pubic Nirvana hangover at Foo Fighters’ first ever UK show from the periphery of an overflowing marquee, while my gaze was repeatedly drawn over my shoulder to fireworks coronating Bjork’s headlining performance of ‘Post’ on the main stage, and I’ve deeply lamented my Dave-patronage ever since. I fell in love with this album concurrently with a psychologically apocalyptic infatuation with a Swedish student and her penchant for meticulously organising freedom (how Scandinavian of her) while studying art six years later, and credit it with my abandonment of that irreproachably self important circle-jerk world.

While my classmates were inadvertently coerced by tutors into photographing happened-upon dead birds atop light-boxes, lapdancers looking affectedly depressed, or in one particularly memorable case, documentation of a conjugation with a craggy faced, middle aged, prosthetic-handed man who ran a City Centre Second Hand Bookstore (no pun intended) in pursuance of something of worth/shocking to say about this absurd secondment in sentience – I solidified an embryonic idea that art was only that which unexpectedly enveloped your soul rather than debunking it as the supposedly bogus concept that science would demand you subscribe-to with carefully measured and columnated arrangements of data.

I would transmigrate to my hidden place with a mind to fawn over my proxy Bjork (Sweden, Iceland – same difference), grasping at semi-formed sound-shapes in the cigarette smoke-canopied gloaming of a tungsten bulb, until her superficialities solidified sufficiently to dissipate in contest with the manifestation of the unassailable adoration I simply had for Bjork’s soul-swallowing opus ‘Vespertine'; glacial soundscapes, birds shattering black against a sonorous and indescribable sky, wayward electrical impulses eventually syncopating to form the pulse of a new ‘organic’, wet fingers delicately circumnavigating glass, damp breath passionately expelled on neck, the balletic nature of spontaneous ice crystal formation in some remote location, sun shafts distributed at incongruous angles through tempestuous clouds across abstract topographies dappling upon unfathomable Metropolises beneath mossy ground through lilting boughs. A heaven I wouldn’t mind going. The reassuring sense of a love impervious to death. A beatific cut through all of life’s bullshit.

Your go, Daniel R Fioro.

(Incidentally, I’d love to get the take of our resident synaesthete Shawn C Baker’s take on this incredible record.)

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Bjork ‘Vespertine’
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Jaw-dropping description/approximation of what was, for me, the last great but probably best Bjork album. I saw her live for this at the Chicago Civic Opera House and I shit you not, I openly cried my eyes out for most of it. One of the most beautiful things I have EVER experienced from another human being.
    I will be happy to give my take sir and am honored you asked, however it’s been a minute. Time to put this one in the headphones and live with it again for a night, as I have kinda forgotten my way around this big ol’ Scandinavian Metropolis.

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