Release Date: Jun 30, 2009
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental, Live, Electronica
This CD/DVD set of tour extras might make you feel like your brain’s doing sit-ups. There’s the live footage from Paris, where Björk conducts vocal? Pilates with a brass band dressed like Apache circus clowns. And there are ?videos on Voltaic like ”Wanderlust,” a 3-D extravaganza starring prehistoric beasts. ?But then, with music this imaginative, it’s easy to get lost in Björk’s Oz.
Leave it to Björk to make a concert release that can be treated as part of her regular body of work rather than a side note. While Björk fans have occasionally complained about the amount of repackaging of her albums, Voltaic reaffirms just how important the live aspect is to her music, and provides a couple of different perspectives on it as well. Volta sparked a particularly inspired and lavish tour that, arguably, ended up being bigger than the actual album was, but tapped into the most dramatic, primal, and elegant aspects of Björk's art overall.
Björk has always been fiercely independent and dedicated to trying new things. She’s also been well-aware of her hardcore fan base, releasing a bunch of low-profile live albums over the years. Voltaic is a much more high-profile release, a live compilation of her 2007-8 world tour and massive stage show. But the hardcore have not been neglected.
Up to this point, the bounty of extracurricular Björk releases-- the live DVDs, remix albums, live LPs, odds'n'sods box sets, surround sound packages-- have all orbited around an astounding centerpiece, whether it be Debut or Post or Homogenic or Vespertine. Such bonus materials were meant to augment the primary artifact and, more often than not, did just that-- even the hilariously excessive Surrounded Dolby 5.1 set came in an irresistible cotton candy-colored square. But Voltaïc's task is tougher.
Bjork There has been no shortage of live Bjork documentation in recent seasons. So let’s file “Voltaic,” released by Nonesuch a couple of weeks ago, under the category of Things We Didn’t Think We Needed. Available in five configurations, from a single CD to a multiple CD-DVD-LP set, it chronicles a typical frenzy of activity following the release of Bjork’s 2007 album, “Volta.” The principal CD, recorded in one pass at a studio in London, features live versions of the songs from the “Volta” tour, performed by a colorful cohort including the keyboardist-programmers Mark Bell and Damian Taylor, the drummer Chris Corsano and an all-female Icelandic brass ensemble.