Album Review: Björk – Vulnicura Strings

Björk’s eighth studio album Vulnicura was released in early 2015 to much warranted critical acclaim. Produced by Björk, Arca and The Haxan Cloak, the album was said, by Bjork herself, to express her feelings before and after her breakup with artist Matthew Barney.

Vulnicura Strings is its beautiful and powerful companion piece, the acoustic version – strings, voice and viola organista only. The incredible string arrangements by Björk on the original have been performed live with a fifteen chair orchestra. The new version is musically wholly comprised of strings, with new violin solos by Una Sveinbjarnardóttir and strings recorded by a ‘Viola Organista’. It is amazing to hear the Viola Organista in its glory, the only one in the world in fact, an instrument designed originally by Leonardo Da Vinci but not built until after his lifetime. The instrument uses a friction belt to vibrate individual strings (similar to a Violin), with the strings selected by pressing keys on the keyboard (similar to an organ).

Recorded in Krakow, Poland by its constructor Sławomir Zubrzycki where the album reached completion. Björk has called the experience of Vulnicura; “magical, both musically and spiritually”, referring to the unison of electronic and acoustic instruments as “romantic”. This is very clever storytelling as the two versions do feel like romantic characters; flawed lovers playing out their final breath together.

I am a lifelong Björk fan and have always loved her work with strings, she seems to have this natural reflex with an orchestra. Her pure, emotive lyrics are given new life through the body of these timeless instruments. Vulnicura Strings allows us to dig even deeper into Björk’s song-writing and performing. It is a moving, ethereal accompaniment to the original and feels as massive to listen to as it must have been to make.

Listen to ‘Lionsong’ below:

The album is released digitally and on CD on 6th November, with a vinyl release on 4th December, all via One Little Indian.

Björk hosted a press conference this week at Iceland Airwaves this week to call for global action to prevent the destruction of Iceland’s Highlands.  Watch the mission statement here:

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