By Peter Hemminger

Is it frightening that an album could be considered strange and inaccessible even by Bjork’s standards? Pop music’s queen of artistic indulgence and that’s meant in the most positive of ways has long gotten away with everything she’s tried. Her eccentric albums, her turn at acting in one of the most depressing musicals ever filmed and her propensity for wearing waterfowl to awards shows are things that could kill the career of a less talented artist. For those who haven’t given her a chance, Bjork will perpetually be a Yoko Ono, representing what goes wrong when music and art collide. But for those in the know, for those who give her half a chance, it’s clear she’s something more.

Medulla comes dangerously close to tipping that balance. Even for an artist who has tried everything from big band to punk to sterile electronics, this is an album boldly different from anything she’s tried before. In Medulla, Bjork has crafted her tribute to the human voice. There’s very little traditional instrumentation on Medulla. Everything from rhythm to accompaniment and lead are covered by Bjork and her vocal collaborators. While her voice is certainly powerful. Quite possibly the most emotionally rich voice in popular music, this album is about all facets of human voice–including everything from heavenly choirs to Rahzel’s beatboxing, and even a human trombone.

It would be easy to write it all off as a novelty, and at times it seems more than appropriate. But in fairness, this is partly because of the album’s so many unfamiliar sounds to process. It’s easy to lose track of the melodies, which are as solid as anything Bjork has released in the past. Only time will tell if the album holds up to repeated listens, but it’s an interesting experiment, even for an artist who’s had many of those already.

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