Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Björk!

It's been nearly a year since I've updated this blog. Life intervened, as they say, and my energies were focused elsewhere. But what better time and reason to return than to celebrate Björk's birthday? As she turns 42 on November 21st, she is able to look back upon an interesting and active year. It was a year in which she delivered a new album that defied expectations, made a spellbinding appearance at the Coachella Music Festival, and set upon an international tour performing awe-inspiring rearrangements of her most enduring songs.

If I can rant for a moment, however -- I saw Bjork perform at Coachella, and again about a month later at the Shoreline Pavillion in Mountain View, CA. Both shows were blow-away great. But -- what was the deal with the monitors? At both concerts, the camera work for the monitors consisted of lingering shots of a UFO tracking system (or whatever it was), hands playing keyboards, cock-eyed angles of pianos, back-up singers and horn players, with seldom a peak at the woman we'd all come to see. At Coachella, it was maddening to see Björk on stage (a fair distance away) dancing and singing and doing all the things she does, while the monitors were, instead, obsessing over hands manipulating a laptop. Certainly it wasn't the result of some kind of artistic directive that had been discussed and decided upon and signed off on by Björk, a directive that said "show everything and everyone except Björk, with little snippets of Björk spliced in at random moments just to remind people who they'd come to see." Or was it? I thought surely the monitor situation would be different at Shoreline, but no. Same thing. Big hands hovering over glowing laptops, long shots of the back-up singers, an off-kilter angle from beneath a piano bench. With little snippets of Björk, spliced in. Just to remind us.

I still don't get it, but the music was incredible, and the inspired rearrangements of virtually every song she performed made them sound almost new.

In addition to a new album and tour, she provided the voice for the starring character in an Icelandic animated short film, Anna and the Moods, and now there's the promise of an new album coming out sooner than later.

If anyone has a reason to celebrate her birthday, it's Björk. And so do we!


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