Amoeba Records stuck out a pseudopod the other day and engulfed me, but at least I gave as good as I got; and hey, isn't that new Björk something? I keep expecting to find Matthew Barney's influence on her, God knows why, as if titling your album after part of the brain automatically links it to Cremasterbut it's easier to track than her influence on him, since he seems to have already ingested all of Western society and is now regurgitating it in weirdly mixed pellets.
Anyway, Medulla most obviously seems to bear the stamp of all the 20th-century classical music that Björk grew up with, but maybe it's just clearer since she's now using the same palette as a lot of classical works. The record isn't entirely a capella, I should point out; there are beats on most of the songs. I guess it's possible that all of those sounds were somehow produced by the human form, but if so they've been so processed and cut up and spliced that they sound exactly like synth drums, and I don't know if it matters. What does matter is that the overall change in instrumentation has given her the freedom to arrange her songs more orchestrally. The harmonies are more daring, and they metamorphose in new ways; the reviewers are calling it "challenging," but it doesn't actually seem inaccessible. A little surprising in places, but even on the first listen it gratifies. When we're all old professors pontificating about the merger of "high" and "low" in pop music post-1960, here's one we can point to, and wag our beards.