While there may be times when one wonders if there's a magical decoder ring packed into every one of her CDs, Björk still manages to craft music that's incredibly complex, yet incredibly warm.
Fresh off her acclaimed performance in the film Dancer in the Dark, this is the Icelandic wonder woman's first full solo album since 1997's Homogenic. It's full of swirling sounds, supple electronic rhythms and instruments like harps, clavichords, and even music boxes. Together they form a brilliant blend, cool colors wrapping their way around the singer's hushed tones.
There's an eeriness seeping through the opening moments of the lead track “Hidden Place,” which rides on haunting echoes and sweeping string effects that sound like they were stolen from a vintage Hitchcock score. “Hidden Place” is the perfect opening statement, for one of the keys to Vespertine is that it does take the listener straight into Björk's very hidden world of illusion and mystery.
Not since the prime-time of Kate Bush—who's been gone way too long by the way—has a female artist so exquisitely stretched the limits of her music and the game of great expectations. And while Björk's brand of art rock is surely not designed for the commercial mainstream, there are certainly hooks to be found here, especially in the very radio friendly “It's Not Up to You.” But the set's centerpiece is undoubtedly the beautiful pairing of the ambient, music box instrumental “Frosti” and the soaring, cathedral-like “Aurora,” an angelic, richly atmospheric combination that proves totally hypnotic.