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Thread: Björk - Utopia - New Album News Thread - [Sept 14 update]

  1. #466
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Features Creatures is the only one that's made me go "eh" - reminds me of a final year composition student melody and the lyrics are a bit ..umm.

    But the arrangement is pretty lovely.

    It's making me think a lot about mid 20th century classical music and how it went down some really quite cerebral routes, that weren't always the most listenable, but were super interesting to study.

    Some of these tracks are really listenable and some are a bit less so - for better or for worse. Features Creatures is so far the only one I'm a bit "eh" on.

  2. #467
    Senior Member hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebby View Post
    It's making me think a lot about mid 20th century classical music and how it went down some really quite cerebral routes, that weren't always the most listenable, but were super interesting to study.
    You're absolutely right! Perhaps that's why I am getting such a vernal vibe from Utopia. Björk and James have been taking cues from the arts and crafts movement and its Viennese counterpart ever since initial pieces of artwork for Vulnicura had been released. The gorgeous masks and compositions of her outfits showcased since then do quite blatantly reference shapes and materials commonly associated with the geometric aestheticism of the Vienna Secession. M/M translated this form language into a fitting typography with modern yet subtle sensibilities. Given Björk's interest in Arnold Schönberg and several other subversive composers of his time, I wouldn't be surprised if there had been some sort of influx on Utopia and Vulnicura, too. I remember hearing the latter half of Vulnicura and it got me thinking about how this music might as well have been written around 1912. It's a far stretch, I know, but somehow I feel that Björk is either very consciously or unconsciously creating within the headspace and essential tradition of a particular time which seems all too appropriate for where she has stood and now stands as a person. Much of Utopia, even more than Vulnicura, sort of sounds like a group of compositions that would have been met with ecstatic enthusiasm in early 20th century Vienna. The electronic aspects of this album are surely a technical creation of our time, but their employment and effectiveness to me is still reminiscent of early 20th century music... which is a brilliant and highly respectable achievement!

  3. #468
    we stand in the Atlantic yoshi's Avatar
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    just had my 1st listen: i like it. i was a bit afraid because of the negative reactions here and also its length. technically it's longer than Vulnicura but it doesn't feel that way at all. it's less of a chore to listen to, more immediate

    overall i like the first half (track 1-7) better. the second half is a bit more confusing, sometimes even a bit schyzophrenic, but i might come around with time

    standout / memorable tracks after the 1st listen: Arisen My Senses, Utopia, Body Memory, Claimstaker

    my least favorite is maybe the "Matthew Barney trilogy": Losss > Sue Me > Tabula Rasa

    also i wouldn't have minded if the album had ended with the Paradisia instrumental. the two songs after that are nice, but that's all.

    i'd also love to hear a beatless version - sometimes the beats are kind of distracting. they are just being there/added on top of everything else for the sake of it

  4. #469
    I'm pretty sure he said "Killdren". Stone's Avatar
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    The leaked version and the retail version are different. Not sure if the leaked is pre-mastered or just mixed differently.

  5. #470
    Listening now. I’m really liking it. The woodwinds in Utopia had me nearly in tears. I’m only halfway through now but the immediate standouts are Arisen, Utopia, and Losss. I got the sense that most people weren’t into losss, but when we are talking about whether or not her music is melodic enough it’s hare to say that losss isn’t one of the most traditionally melodic things on the album. It follows a pretty straightforward and easily discernible chord progression. I’d love to hear a version without beats as well. It’s not that I don’t like them, i just agree the album would be truly stunning without. Losss would be AMAZING without them.

  6. #471
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    Arisen My Senses is incredible.

  7. #472
    See that sweet Jesus! silver's Avatar
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    Blissing Me is still my favorite.
    I agree with those wanting a beatless version!


  8. #473
    Senior Member okyanus's Avatar
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    Losss is my favorite track. Would have been even better without beats, I agree.

  9. #474
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    Interesting comment about how she actually worked with Arca on the album:

    The first song we did was the first song on the album, ‘Arisen My Senses’. I actually found a loop of a mixtape or a SoundCloud thing that Arca had done three years prior. I just thought it was the most happiest firework that he’d ever done. I didn’t tell him about it – I just sampled it, sang it to him and he just exploded, you know? I wasn’t really conscious of what I was doing. I was reaching for the most euphoric, antigravity moment that he’d done, and then I exaggerated that by looping it and writing a harp arrangement around it and singing on top of it these ecstatic lyrics. After we’d taken the saddest coordinates of each other and combined them into Vulnicura, we were doing the opposite now. And that was kinda the starting point.

    [...]

    He’d send me music that he’d made, then I would pick a bit, like I just described to you, in ‘Arisen’… I would edit it on ProTools, because all the songs on my albums are edited by me on ProTools. That’s one way.

    Another way was more similar to Vulnicura: I would write a song like I normally do – I’d do a flute arrangement or a harp arrangement then sing – and then he would come and make a beat to it. There were a couple of songs like that: ‘Blissing Me’, ‘Body Memory’ and I think like five or six songs like that.

    Then there were songs he would send me complete songs and I’d write over the top of it, which I’ve never done but I’ll do with him. ‘The Gate’, the first single, that was that sort of song. He sent me the instrumental and it was so perfect, it didn’t need any editing. Actually I take that back – it did need some editing [laughs]. So I wrote the flute arrangement and my vocals. ‘Painstaker’ was also like that, the second last song.

    Then there were songs similar to how we did ‘Notget’ on Vulnicura, where I took a song he’d already written, and a song of mine that I’d already written, and we’d do a mash-up. I just choked them to pieces and made a new thing out of two songs that already exist.
    http://www.factmag.com/2017/11/24/bj...pia-interview/

  10. #475
    Senior Member take_offs's Avatar
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    This is beautiful. It's going to take awhile to sink in, but that's what I enjoy about her work. The world unfolds over time.

  11. #476
    Hock...hockety-pockety? Joey's Avatar
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    Yeah, I’m really loving this. It’s gorgeous. I mean, it will probably wind up like everything else post-Medulla in that I’ll only listen to it once in a great while, but I’d say it’s probably as good as Vulnicura and better than Biophilia and Volta.

  12. #477
    imagine a future and be in it emanate's Avatar
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    I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I like this album. It's easily my favorite thing she's done since Medúlla. I was 50/50 on Volta and never got into Biophilia or Vulnicura.

  13. #478
    generally largely right Dan's Avatar
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    I'm surprised by the content of this record. It's more Pornhub than Tinder, to be honest. Hearing Björk singing about oral and anal entrances is weird as all fuck. Most of the album (except the obvious anti-ex-husband angrier songs) sounds like it's meant as a soundtrack for fucking. It makes sense as an album much more so than individual songs do as singles.

    However, all the caveats for latter-day Björk apply, and this time to an even greater degree. She has maintained her reputation and acclaim because she never errs on the side of trite and poppy, she's always experimental and strange. But that doesn't mean she never errs at all. In the earlier half of her career, while deeply original and idiosyncratic, she was incredibly good at delivering solid hooks and hummable melodies, and her most recent albums have been nearly devoid of those. I don't care her work resembles that of contemporary classical composers. In the end, she is still a pop artist, and by current popular music standards, a lot of her recent stuff is flawed.

  14. #479
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    I don't care her work resembles that of contemporary classical composers. In the end, she is still a pop artist, and by current popular music standards, a lot of her recent stuff is flawed.
    I don't think she is anymore, though. Unless your definition of 'pop artists' stretches to include, say, latter-day Scott Walker. IMO complaining that there are no hummable hooks on Utopia is a bit like criticising Tilt or The Drift or Bish Bosch for not being tuneful 60s crooner stuff.

  15. #480
    Senior Member hermes's Avatar
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    Having purchased a physical copy and a 24bit download today, I was finally able to listen to the album as intended and I am honestly even more blown away than I was before. This is such an outstanding work. It's very demanding and not at all fit for the rather short attention span everyday life requires us to have. There is no way in hell I'd choose a single song from this album to listen to whilst on the tram.

    Every song seems to perform a particular function throughout this cycle and none of them therefore follow an easily intelligible structure. Yet I believe this is such a triumphant achievement for her as a composer (and producer) that I cannot help but wonder whether she will finally be taken seriously as a composer of not just "experimental" music (a meaningless umbrella term for everything that challenges classical traditions, unfortunately). There is this stigma of arbitrariness surrounding "experimental" music and Björk's post-Vespertine output specifically which I find to be very unfair. While surely unconventional in some regards, her music has always been highly aesthetical and therefore stands in the same tradition it is sometimes looked down upon or marginalised by. I sincerely hope Utopia and most importantly she as its creator are recognised far beyond the mainstream music scene for this effort.

    There is one complaint I have with this otherwise magnificent album, though... and that's the grammar in some songs. I know Björk has had a funny way of bending the English language on several occasions, but none of the baffling grammar fails on this album could be justified by metric discrepancies. Why she's been neglectful of articles and pronouns so much this time around is beyond me.

    Also, why bother to even produce a transparent sticker and waste resources when it ends up completely unreadable on any part of the cover?

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