I just watched the video that Björk
released today for "Utopia" and had a panic attack. Well, not really, but it was close.
The video for the titular track from Björk's new album is as unnerving as the Icelandic art-pop sensation's avant-garde production that hints at establishing melody and bucolic comfort yet disrupts any sense of ease with clicking syncopations and sonic idiosyncrasies. I say all of that with the best intentions.
There's an old cliche, there's always an old cliche, that art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed and in a way, Björk has built her image around that notion, and continues it with the multi-sensory experience that is "Utopia". On the surface, the Alice in Wonderland
world that is presented to us in "Utopia" is a fantastical realm of pastel colors, interesting critters, fairy-esque creatures complete with dainty flutes, and plenty of imagery suggestive of certain body parts. And "Utopia" as the song plays right into it, down to the odd assortment of animal noises and cheerful flute work that recalls a peaceful and pastoral time long past.
But peel back the surface a little bit, and you find anomalies that make things just a bit unnerving. There's Björk's big, exaggerated anime eyes that hold more of an animal's gaze than human's. The flutists contort their bodies in a number of inhuman poses, pieces of fauna that don't seem like they should move begin to move, and of course, there's Björk's atonal, enigmatic half-whisper, half-hymnal singing.
Björk claims that Utopia
is more "positive" than her previous work, especially Vulnicura
, and in a way it is. Utopia
and its track and accompanying video all promise that paradise is here, so long as you can accept it for the discomfort that it brings.