Even measured against the Icelandic singer’s own artistic yardstick, Bjork’s seventh studio album is a shocker, the kind of record that’ll stop those who overhear it and make them ask, “What the hell is that?” Medulla is both the most extreme record Bjork has ever released and the most immediately accessible.
Aside from some subtle keyboards and plenty of sublime computer manipulations, Medulla’s awe-inspiring architecture of sound is built almost exclusively from voices, including a few human beatboxes, veteran U.K. singer-songwriter Robert Wyatt, former Faith No More frontman Mike Patton, the Icelandic and London choirs and Bjork herself, delivering her most expressive performances and compositions to date.
On tracks such as “Oceania,” clusters of voices swim by as if they were schools of brightly colored fish. “Desired Constellation” keeps things simple, with Bjork repeatedly wailing, “How am I going to make it right?” over a fluttering buzz. At the end of the surreal and vocally symphonic “Mouths Cradle,” she concludes, “I need a shelter to build an altar away from all Osamas and Bushes.” With this heavenly orgy of angelic choirs and gigabytes of technology, she has succeeded.