Bjork may be back to using instruments on her albums, but the human voice is still the highlight of the Icelandic artist’s forthcoming “Volta.” Due May 8 via One Little Indian/Atlantic, the 10-track album features a decidedly minimalist and meditative approach to its arrangements, including contributions from a brass section and tight drum patterns.
Beats produced by Timbaland are prominently featured on three tracks: the intense opener “Earth Intruders” (which hits iTunes April 9) the space-age “Innocence” and “Hope.” The latter lyrically alludes to the quandary of terrorism, with Bjork singing, “What’s the lesser of two evils? / If a suicide bomber made to look pregnant / Manages to kill her target or not? / If she kills them or dies in vain? / Nature has fixed no limits on our hopes.”
Antony Hegarty’s quivering voice is a significant presence on the love song “Dull Flame of Desire,” trading off with Bjork’s floating melody over layers of brass. He is also heard on “My Juvenile,” a track about motherhood. “I See Who You Are” features a contribution by Min Xiao-Fen on the pipa, a Chinese lute.
Thematically, “Volta” sways between paranoia, defiance and alienation to love, introspection and hope. Tracks like “Earth Intruders,” “Vertebrae by Vertebrae” and “Declare Independence” are the most aggressive, her voice reaching feverish pitches amid eerie, glitchy arrangements. Balance is restored with several slow cuts, such as “Pneumonia” and “Dull Flame of Desire.”
Bjork is taking to the road in North America this spring, beginning with her April 27 appearance at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. The itinerary also includes May 2, 5 and 8 shows in New York at Radio City Music Hall, the United Palace Theater and the Apollo, respectively.
Here is the track list for “Volta”:
“Dull Flame of Desire”
“I See Who You Are”
“Vertebrae by Vertebrae”