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Comes in die-cut cardboard two-fold gatefold sleeve. Includes download dropcard.
Even though its predecessor was rooted in ideas around organic matter and mutation, this year's Vulnicura felt more like a living process than any of Björk's previous records. The tracklist was a linear path through the collapse of her 13-year relationship, and its devastating fallout. The liner notes dated the songs according to their distance from the emotional chasm at its center, embodied by the 10-minute "Black Lake". Its length reflected the difficult process of trying to articulate and move on from abstract, muddled pain, she explained, and her elongated vowels seemed to massage out that meaning.
Vulnicura Strings takes the record back to the very beginning of the process, where Björk threw herself into writing complex arrangements for strings as a way of coping after the split. The addition of subtly powerful beats added to the record's sense of rupture, evoking an arrhythmic heart and blowing circuits that left darkness in their sputtering wake. Removing them should result in a rawer incarnation of Vulnicura, but this sounds more like a suturing. The original's broken-ness is gone, in its place an undisturbed tragic whole.
Although some listeners may have found the electronic instrumentation distracting, Vulnicura Strings—a remake of the album using only strings, and jettisoning electronics—isn't necessarily an easier listen. It's more intense for the sense of space, which enhances Björk's cavernous, anguished vowels and sometimes accusatory tone. The ensemble's queasy, acidic qualities also stand out. These aren't always the original recordings, but closer mic'd takes, a subtle difference that gives the record a slightly uncanny quality, aided by the rearranged tracklist. The vast, trembling edifice of "Atom Dance" is stunning in isolation, while the spaces in "Black Lake" seem to linger even longer, with a kind of awkward tranquility. The lyrics are stripped out of "Family" in favor of highlighting its two piercing, frantic crescendos.
A1 Lionsong 6:17
A2 Black Lake 10:08
B1 Mouth Mantra 6:09
B2 Atom Dance 7:46
C1 Stonemilker 6:48
C2 Family 7:00
D1 Notget 4:41
D2 Quicksand 4:08
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