Part of the Listen to This Audio Guide
Carnaval in Bahia, 2004. Photo by Alex Ross.
The official site for the singer, songwriter, composer, and visionary Björk is a geysir of lovely graphics and useful information — see especially the "specials" devoted to individual albums. Bad Taste is the leading Icelandic label for both popular and classical music. The Iceland Music Information Centre tells you all about Icelandic composers. The Iceland Review has delightful deadpan news stories. Some headlines that I collected while researching my Björk profile: "Power Outage Ruins Handball Game," "Mysterious Markings Found on Sheep," and "President Unhappy," which had this immortal opening sentence: "President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who is currently in the United States, was unhappy that no one notified him about the commemorative programme on Sunday celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Icelandic home rule and an official state meeting."
A documentary presently available in several parts on YouTube documents the making of the 2004 album Medúlla, the main focus of this chapter. You can see all the principals, including Valgeir Sigurðsson, the Schola Cantorum, Mike Patton, Tanya Tagaq, Dokaka, Rahzel, Mark Bell, and a group of Brazilian drummers, who, in the end, were left off the album. The author can be seen crouching on the floor at 3:10:
When I was speaking to Björk about "Nordic feeling" (pp. 138-39), this is what I saw out of the window of the taxi:
A video of Jón Leifs's orchestral work Hekla (p. 145), with images of the Icelandic volcano from which it takes its name:
The opening of Leifs's Organ Symphony:
A live performance of "Vökuró" (p. 146), a song by the Icelandic composer Jórunn Viðar, as adapted by Björk for Medúlla:
After enrolling in Iceland's leading music school, Björk became fascinated by the work of Olivier Messiaen, John Cage, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, whom she went on to interview in 1996 (p. 147). She remains a strong admirer of the composer, and wrote about him again after his death. Here is the beginning of a flute piece called Glora (p. 147), which Björk wrote and played when she was fifteen:
From the box set Family Tree.
A sense of Björk's adolescent art-punk period can be gained from this video for her band Kukl (pp. 147-48):
Björk abruptly achieved international fame as the lead singer of the Sugarcubes (p. 148):