2000, Music

Selmasongs (2000) by Bjork

I have not seen the film though it has been on my list for years. I suspect that the time for me to like the film is long past – if there ever was a time – but that doesn’t really apply to the soundtrack.

On “Overture” Bjork shows pretty great command of the orchestra, as if she could have had another career as a film composer. The use of orchestra continues throughout the soundtrack (such as the excellent fade out on “Scattherheart”) but it’s “Overture” that really sells me this alternate reality. It’s fascinating to hear something so good from someone who normally does something so different.

The rest of the record is a lot more what you might expect: some kind of weird hybrid of American musicals and European trip hop, with the other influence thrown in. (Some of claimed the percussion track on “Cvalda” to be waitisan but it’s not junkyardy enough.) If the cover of “It’s Oh So Quiet” felt out of place on Post this is the record where she reconciles her competing impulses of wanting to be in a musical and wanting to make avant garde but often danceable pop music. (And her alternate personas of quirky naif and eternal, timeless spirit.)

I don’t know how the duets sound in the movie but here they add another dimension since this is not something that is common in Bjork’s regular music. Writing for another person seems to pull her to a little more conventional (in theatrical musical convention terms) and having an actual vocal foil gives the record a sound unique in her catalogue.

I haven’t listened to a lot of her recent music, but I know of no other record of hers from the first couple decades of her career which is like this. It’s distinct and unique and it functions without the film, which is the best thing I can say about a movie soundtrack as an album.


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