Selmasongs (Elektra)

Almost Famous
We've been told that Bjork's Selmasongs makes a lot more sense if you've seen Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, the movie to which it's a soundtrack. Doesn't matter. The seven songs that make up this brief but rich 32-minute EP are packed with the electronic adventures and melodic juxtapositions that made the Icelandic oddball's last two albums -- 1995's Post and 1997's Homogenic -- such revelatory listens. Selmasongs, whether soundtrack or not to a perplexing Danish filmmaker's post-modern musical (for which Bjork won the Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), is equally as breathless in its musical explorations.

Copping its style somewhat from von Trier's ethos of semi-guerrilla filmmaking, Selmasongs has both thirst and vengeance. French film icon Catherine Deneuve is given collaborative credit on the percussive/rhythmic "Cvalda," and the appropriately titled "Scattershot" mixes jungle bursts with orchestral swells for a truly mesmerizing track. That Bjork is willing to step aside and let the songs play out naturally (whether that includes using footsteps as a timekeeper on one cut or opening the EP with an "Overture" that's as suitably introductory as it is thematically necessary) is a credit to her ever-increasing progress as an artist. Selmasongs does stand on its own, particularly as a semi-sequel to the lovely Homogenic. The songs, all produced or co-produced by Bjork, tread across lush soundscapes populated by buzzing bits of elegance. "I've Seen It All," a brittle duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke, moves gracefully between its points, and the closing "New World" builds to a stirring classical climax. They invoke visions of beauty, peculiarity, and disturbance, even without the benefit of the film itself unspooling in front of you.

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