Björk – Vulnicura Strings (The Acoustic Version: Strings, Voice and Viola Organista Only)
If you liked Vulnicura, Björk’s fine album from earlier in the year, then you’re in luck. The Icelandic songstress has just released a version that removes everything from the original songs except for the vocals and strings. The result, if possible, is an even more stark and heart-wrenching account of the pain of broken love. The strings were already the most startling element on Vulnicura, creating an initial sense of anxiety on tracks like ‘Stonemilker’ only to degenerate to the point of repeated stabbing on ‘Notget’. With all other instrumentation removed, the album is perhaps a little less dynamic overall, but it’s no less intense. Typically, though, Björk can’t simply release a stripped back album and be done with it. One song, ‘History of Touches’, is gone, which makes sense when you go back and listen to the original. More perplexingly, the order of the songs is shuffled around, thus stripping the story of its narrative coherence too. And then there’s the inclusion of the viola organista. This is a sort of pedal-operated violin first sketched out by Leonardo da Vinci, but only built some 500-odd years later. Only Björk would feel the need to include the sound of a completely new instrument on the bare bones version of an album. The beauty of Vulnicura was that it appeared out of nowhere. Unaccompanied by a fully immersive, multi-media experience, it was already stripped back both musically and emotionally. Vulnicura Strings accentuates all that was best about the original. And doesn’t detract too much from it either.