Vulnicura is the album Bjork fans were longing for. Co-producing with white-hot underground beatmaker Arca, Bjork crafts some of her most singular and affecting music yet, writing complex string arrangements that elevate the drama in songs like “Stonemilker” to that of classics like Homogenic’s “Joga” or “Bachelorette.” Vulnicura measures the effects of the end of a relationship—the end of Bjork’s partnership with artist Matthew Barney serves as the catalyst—and she acts as an emotional scientist on tracks like “Lionsong,” tinkering with what’s left in the aftermath (“Should I throw oil on one of these wounds? But which one?”) amid vocal manipulation that calls to mind her work on the voice-centric Medulla. As that striking album art portrays, the core of Vulnicura is a gaping wound. On “History of Touches,” she sees every touch and sexual ecounter as a singularity, illustrated by electronics that glow like an aurora borealis. But her shield of objectivism crumbles on “Black Lake,” Vulnicura’s absolutely devastating centerpiece. Over 10 minutes, Bjork details how hitting absolute bottom at the end of a relationship that feels like a life’s worth of work coming to and end. Every so often, the music, a dark swirl of strings and beats supplied by Bjork and Arca, cuts out for a strange, long coda that feels like a necessary swallowing of air before she delivers the next stanza, sometimes wearily, sometimes desperately. Each time it hits like a punch to the gut. She’s simply never done anything so affecting before; given her catalog, this alone is remarkable.
Bjork can always manage to surprise us. After Beyonce-ing her new album, Vulnicura, online earlier this year, she's just revealed the cover art for Vulnicura's upcoming physical release on March 24, and it's a doozy.
Designed by Bjork and Andrew Thomas Huang, the image still has the open heart featured on the album's digital release, but instead of looking like the Rubber Man from "American Horror Story," now the figure on the cover (I'm guessing it's Bjork) looks more like a victim from Pompeii, frozen in ash while doing yoga.
Bjork's albums have a history of looking pretty badass, especially the Alexander McQueen-designed cover for her masterpiece Homogenic. Speaking of that album (and all of her others), they're also due on LP reissue this month.
Hear "Black Lake," the harrowing centerpiece to Vulnicura, below:
The first 5,000 copies of the reissue will each come in “the hue that personifies that album character,” One Little Indian says. After that, the imprint will issue the LPs on black vinyl.
So just which hue is Debut? What cula’ is Medulla? Check out the descriptions below for each album, which you can preorder now (I didn’t write these, assuming Bjork did):
Debut (1993) [Beige]
shy beginner humility virgin beige silver mohair the messenger
Post (1995) [Pink]
greedy euphoric absorb promiscuity urban pink
Homogenic (1997) [Green]
Out Feb. 17
A Place to Bury Strangers are known for their high-volume shoegaze played with custom-built guitar pedals, but new album Transfixation is said to be more experimental. The first single, “Straight,” sounds a little like Spacemen 3 jamming with Battles, with a frantic beat and strange noises rounded out by Oliver Ackermann’s cool delivery. We’re so down.
With all the happenings at Amoeba, it’s easy to miss some of our contests, but we’re always holding some sort of contest. In fact, right now we’re holding two — enter to win tickets to see She & Him June 23 at the Hollywood Bowl (enter by June 17; more info here) and enter to win a pair of passes to the First City Festival Aug. 24-25 in Monterey, Calif., with Modest Mouse, Beach House, Passion Pit, MGMT and more (enter by June 24; more info here).
Our recent winners have been enjoying their spoils from various contests. Richard E. recently won tickets to see Mumford & Sons at the Hollywood Bowl. Says Richard: “The show was great! I was only really familiar with Mumford & Sons from their Grammy appearance, but my wife has been a fan for quite a while. Her enjoyment was really infectious and I’ve found myself humming songs since the show. We had a fantastic time. I have always been a person that would see any kind of live music, and this show really paid off!”