On “on Volta”

I've written some words about Volta, Björk's new album, on my Last.fm journal. A good number of them are quite orthogonal to what might be considered sensible. Yes, I'm aware that my interpretation of the album's narrative is entirely unique.

For posterity, here are those words — since deleted from Last.fm — courtesy of archive.org.

on Volta

I bought Volta today, what with it being released today and everything. And here was me, like a fool, expecting an album of songs like Earth Intruders. I should know better.

By the way, this isn't a coherent review—just some thoughts. (The Friday Fetch-it will be back soon.)

Volta's sleeve is pretty elaborate (the limited edition, anyway)—the CD and DVD live in the middle of a five-layer Russian-doll–style nest, and the front artwork lives on a sticker that holds together the two halves of the gatefold.

Declare Independence is a blatant contender for a future single. The nearest comparisons to other Björk songs are Army of Me, Pluto and (especially) the Alec Empire mixes of Jóga; but it also sounds kind of like Let Me See Your Eyes, Dance This Mess Around and the start of Banquet (Phones' Disco Edit). (If you download one track off this album...)

I See Who You Are and Hope sound like Colleen—that'll be the plucked strings then. To call The Dull Flame Of Desire “epic” would be lazy but fitting; it has good drumming.

A couple of the tracks sample brass from Drawing Restraint 9 and dramatic or lamentative brass is present throughout much of the album. Volta sounds like it takes place partly aboard a very slowly sinking steam ship, partly in a zen garden and partly inside a drum. And occasionally in Björk's head,

more on Volta


Actually I think Declare Independence is much closer to Enjoy than to Army of Me. It's kind of like the bastard child of Pluto and Enjoy only with more noise, 10%-Dalek vocals and four times as loud.

The songs on Volta each share a lot of elements with various earlier Björk songs, both sonically and thematically; I won't try to show off by listing every connection I can think of 'cos you'd probably spot them anyway.

(Warning: the following paragraphs were invented inside my head and make absolutely no sense whatsoever; any similarity to any album by Björk is entirely coincidental)

Our story begins—inside a drum in the middle of Africa—with Earth Intruders. Timbaland's there and everything's generally a bit mental: Space Invaders™, subtly renamed to avoid legal difficulties, are trying to take over the... drum. Fortuitously, and quite inexplicably, a steam ship arrives and makes a lot of noise for one minute and thirty-one seconds.

The ship is the venue for most of the album. In Wanderlust, Björk sets sail aboard the S.S. Drawing Restraint 9, leaving Timbaland behind. She meets Antony Matthew Barney Hegarty, the ship's captain, and Björk and Antony perform The Dull Flame Of Desire from deep within the bowels of the ship's hull (because Antony didn't know all of the words to Unison).

Innocence is a flashback to Björk's time with Timbaland... in the drum... when Björk discovered another side to herself (place your bets now on what this is going to end up being) and slowly comes to terms with it.

I See Who You Are, in which Björk admires Antony's body (gender notwithstanding) and decides it's pretty tasty-looking (bear with me on this), takes place in a zen garden inside Björk's head (which is still inside the ship, on top of the rest of her).

Vertebræ By Vertebræ is set back on S.S. DR9—it turns out Björk is a werewolf (or possibly a werewhale).

During Pneumonia, the now-werewolfily-schizophrenic Björk watches herself ravage everyone on the ship (including Antony), despite her own protestations.

Hope cuts back to the zen garden in Björk's head, in which she ponders the ethical ramifications of her werewolfy alter ego's rampage.

Declare Independence takes place inside the ship's engine as it crashes into the ocean floor (Björk ate the pilot, remember?). In her last moments, Björk considers the plight of Timbaland and all those other people who live in the... drum... at the hands of the Space Invaders™.

My Juvenile is set once again in the zen garden in Björk's head / the afterlife, where Antony (as ‹the conscience›) forgives her. 'Cos, y'know, he's a nice guy like that.

It's kind of like the film Titanic, only with a werewolf instead of an iceberg, Antony and Björk instead of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and no string quartet. And Kate rips Leo to bits with her teeth.