Am I the only one that likes Björk?

Björk is an acquired taste, and her music is very concept driven. I think that Björk has a perfect balance on how music is typically sold to us and how Art is presented to us. When you look at her album covers for example (which are a footnote compared to her overall achievements) every cover tells a story. Björk wanted her ‘debut album’ to personify her as a vulnerable girl coming into the dangerous industry of music, ‘Post’ was supposed to represent her break into fame with this girl being lost in the sea of fame where it is almost nauseating. Then you look at covers like ‘Homogenic’ where Björk no longer represents a person anymore but more a work of art herself almost as if to hint that her work and that fame she once craved is as John Updike once wrote “Like a mask that eats into the face”.

I was always aware of Björk when I was growing up but she was never a main focus for me because I was too young to be able to explore her art. Out of curiosity I bought her ‘Greatest hits’ which of course is actually more of a fan driven selection of must hear tracks. I was blown away by how much differing emotion there was! It was like an adventure not just of emotions, but the fun of trying to understand and deconstruct what Björk is trying to teach us. This album instantly inspired me to seek out the seperate albums which in their own right have so much to offer.

Björk is like no musician I have ever heard before, she has a style about her that has been widely borrowed from but has never been matched. You could make the assumption that Lady Gaga was inspired by Björk simply based on how she dresses up provocatively but musically the styles are very different. I also find Björk very unsettling and I think she played on this ideal at some points. 

Björk is not afraid to be sexual in her performances, she pokes fun at the concept in some works and lovingly uplifts it in others. Björk herself has a very childlike persona, Thom Yorke of radiohead loves Björk and when describimg her he said “her voice is very sexual but at the same time childish, she has a lot of power in her voice but you’re not afraid that it will do damage” her screeches are very much like a misbehaved child but she sometimes gets to points where she is just making noises and using her voice like an instrument, the sound she produces is beautiful.

Björk seems to be in control of her creative freedoms which is refreshing too. A notable point is that “Oh so quiet” has been one of her largest hits but this is a cover of a 50s song and the music video directed by Spike Jonze was a homage to old musicals. This song does stand out like a sore thumb on the album, but to me this feels like Björk showing us she can add something to any genre no matter how detached it is from her regular stomping grounds. Björk isn’t after fame, she is after creating something worthwhile, which is why this track felt more like an attention grabber!
Björk seems to breathe life into genres that she touches. Take the Sugarcubes for example, which were the band that she originally started in as a young adult, (if you don’t count when she was a child star producing traditional asian songs). The Sugarcubes were full of angst and punk style ‘fuck you’ lyrics. The band are very tongue in cheek and are great fun to explore but one song on that album “Birthday” became a gigantic hit in the UK when John Peel brought it to the radios as an imported track. Bjork shows off her incredibly vocal dynamics in this song and has impeccable accuracy when it comes to hitting ranges. Dance, electronica, hip hop, house, jazz, jungle, trip hop, they have all been inspired by her and she has dipped her toe into a variety of genres. Björk seems to forge new genres and blurs the lines between them, this is possibly down to the avant garte underground music in which she takes root. Björk is clearly not afraid to experiment, and this is what makes her music exciting.

Björk carries with her a great sense of humour and I particular love her appreciation of animator John K and particular 90s cartoon Ren and Stimpy. Björk had John K animate one of her music videos ‘I miss you’ which is very strange but great fun.

One of the rather sad things about Björk is that to date I have never met anyone who has listened to her music! I have tried to show her to people but they never have the urge to explore her music like I do. As much as it’s a shame it is a pleasure that I have had the chance to experience the beauty she brings to her work.
If you have any interesting points or would like to share favourite songs and what they mean to you please let me know.


How to ignore ‘Ghost in the Shell’ super fans!

I recently went to the cinema to see the live action reboot of Ghost in the Shell. Take it from me, you need to see this reboot. I know there are a lot of them lately but this one is fantastic.

Despite what many critics say this film doesn’t hurt the original animated feature one bit, in fact I would say it is a fitting tribute. It is also important to say that this reboot isn’t just a rehashing of the original it is a stand up film in its own right.
The project which is the main focus of the reboot is called Project 2571 which is just to remind us that the film is not portraying 2501 with the puppet master as shown in the original. I must say there was quite a lot borrowed from the originally but visually it was incredible.  Scarlet Johannson was the best person for the role of kusanagi in my opinion and she perfectly nails the downbeat nature of the character.

The world that they created for the film was exciting, colourful and enticing. The world the film was set in almost looked like something that could have been dreamed up by Ridley Scott.
The direction and timing of the films narrative is enjoyably paced without skipping past some of the sentimental and thought provoking moments in the film. The action is well choreographed and despite being a 12A, (which did make me and my girlfriend curious) it didn’t feel like it was lacking suitable amounts of violence.

As most film buffs know The Matrix was influenced by Ghost in the Shell and you can tell that this film has adopted the same sense of style. There is plenty of philosophical dialogue that has the whiff of Renee Descartes meditations which examines the duality between the body and the soul.

I must be honest I have a slight soft spot for Scarlet because I love her acting and also fancy her a little bit so she can’t really ever do wrong in my eyes. I do think though that she will always get a hard time because these dick head fans will always want to crap all over any movie that tries to recreate something we enjoy. Don’t listen to the fans, give the film a try, you’ll realise it has a lot to offer and you’ll be pleasantly surprised

Resident Evil 7: Back on Track

Imagine if your partner had been missing for many years and the police had ended the search. Then out of the blue you receive an email from her with an address and a video of her attached filmed that day asking you to stay away. Already the set up is unsettling before the game even begins.

I have to hand it to Capcom, I was starting to think that Resident Evil was becoming the new Call of Duty where they just churn out the same shitty game over and over again? But they have taken a step to making something new and refreshing.
I am a massive Resident Evil fan and I was there when the very first game was released and have followed the series ever since. Although the games of 4, 5 and 6 were perfectly playable they didn’t match the original games for their dark unsettling vibe.

Resi 7 though is back on track. When I started the game I wondered if it would be unplayable because it has such an intense start and I was freaking out with fear. I persisted though, and the game is so rewarding if you are patient. It is a survival horror again, just like the old days! Limited ammo, endless flood of bad guys and wicked puzzles.

One cool addition is that like in the old Resident Evil games you can find videotapes strewn about the map. Unlike in the old games where you just watch them, in this game you take part and you play through the video like some sort of mini game. Some of the tapes are even creepier than the real game itself.

I don’t want to be one of those people who spoils a great game by telling you every last detail, just pick up a copy and try it. You should even try if you don’t normally like Horror games. I promise it is not all mayhem. I do want to make some comparisons to the old games though so the true fans can know what I noticed:

  • The game is in a dark dingy setting similar to the setting of the Resi 1 mansion
  • You have limited weapons and ammo
  • The maps have doors and room names and as you progress you unlock and explore the map (like resi 1)
  • There are special keys which are dedicated to specially locked doors
  • There is a weighted shotgun puzzle like in Resi 1
  • You don’t have to worry about typewriter ribbons because they have tape recorders around which are infinite.
  • There are cranks (oh I love Cranks)
  • There are herbs and sprays and you can combine things to make ammo or health stuff
  • There are weird camera angles that force your perspective in an uncomfortable way (like the old games)
  • The rendering of the game and the graphics are mind blowing. This reminds me of when Resi 1 remaster happened and it blew our minds.
  • There are old pictures and some sort of built in lore through notes, diaries. Super fans get off on this shit.

If anyone has noticed anymore similarities to the original Resi games let me know but I am so pleased. The game isn’t just a rehashing of the original games but is a fitting tribute. The newer type of resi had gone stale and even the whole TVIRUS Bullshit was getting in the way of thrilling potential. Great job Capcom you’ve won a gamers heart once again.

Ending point: wouldn’t it be cool if they did a action style reboot of Nemesis in the style of this new game, I think having a Nemesis style chase again would be intensely scary. They don’t have to make it constant bullet shedding but just a hint of a homage to Resi 3, that was a sweet game! The only reason I still own a game cube is for the original resident evil games. Which is your favourite? I think Code Veronica X doesn’t get enough credit!