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196 words about Vespertine
Maybe indoors isn't so bad
Webster defines Vespertine as tiny shards of sonic glass, a sculpture you walk inside of, microscopic breath-motes, a handprint receding from flesh under covers. I used to think of it as a winter album, but these days I think of it as an inside album. This is by design. Bjork, coming off the posthuman epic Homogenic and in the midst of a grueling collaboration with Lars Von Trier (is there any other kind?), yearned to create something small, intimate, domestic. The breathy vocals and "embroideries" (her term) are composed of cut-up samples of cards being shuffled, ice cracking, harps and musicboxes, all engineered to be listened to digitally: Bjork saw the emergence of Napster as a prompt for her most sensual album. So, perhaps there were still some posthuman kicks to get out. But where we once saw Bjork being assembled, piece by piece, in a factory, here her body is the technology, nature the agent of grand transformation. Twenty years on, it would be an understatement to compare Vespertine to, like, a favorite blanket; it sounds like nothing less than home, as intimately defined as your skin, alive to whatever radiant pagan energy it sparks.