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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Björk: Post Live

BJÖRK: POST LIVE (1995-97; 2003)

1) Headphones; 2) Army Of Me; 3) One Day; 4) The Modern Things; 5) Isobel; 6) Possibly Maybe; 7) Hyperballad; 8) I Go Humble; 9) Big Time Sensuality; 10) Enjoy; 11) I Miss You; 12) It's Oh So Quiet; 13) Anchor Song.

This one was mostly recorded at Shepherds Bush on February 27, 1997, not too far away from the release of Homogenic, meaning that all these Post songs had plenty of time to stew and settle down in the repertoire. The only exceptions are ʽPossibly Maybeʼ and ʽHyperballadʼ, recorded more than a year earlier on the Jools Holland show. As you can see, the album is indeed covered almost in its entirety, with the exception of ʽYou've Been Flirting Againʼ and ʽCover Meʼ, for unknown reasons (perhaps they didn't have a harp on tour, without which ʽCover Meʼ would be hard to imagine); in their place we have the obscure B-side ʽI Go Humbleʼ and a re-run through three tunes from Debut (ʽOne Dayʼ, ʽBig Time Sensualityʼ, and ʽAnchor Songʼ).

Frankly speaking, there isn't much to say here: the spectacle, at this point, still seems to have been relatively low key, and unlike the «unplugged» version of Debut, here the dame generally sticks to the original arrangements — and what changes there are do not necessarily work for the best, like way too much accordeon (or accordeon-like synthesizer, whatever). The Michel Legrand Orchestra is brought out for ʽIt's Oh So Quietʼ, which is every bit as fun as the studio arrange­ment, but this is just one of those cases of «gee, isn't it wonderful how they really managed to save all the complexities and subtleties of this song for the audience, so cool and all, and now I think I'll forget all about it and go back to my studio version».

Amusingly, it is the old chestnuts ʽOne Dayʼ and ʽBig Time Sensualityʼ that are given the most transformational treatment. The former, stripped of almost everything but electronic percussion, it becomes a «tribal-industrial» blend against which Björk is fighting rather than singing. I cannot call this a great idea, but at least they also had the good sense to make it twice as short as it used to be — six minutes of this clanging would have been overkill. ʽBig Time Sensualityʼ is slowed down, seriously tampered with in terms of electronic percussions and «astral» overlays, and is pinned to a nagging not-seen-there-before five-note riff that is more repetitive than awesome. As for ʽI Go Humbleʼ, it's got a quirky time signature that I'd call «limping-funk», but other than that, it's not a highlight of the show.

On the whole, I find myself agreeing, much to my discontent, with the Pitchforkmedia reviewer who singled this one out as the least interesting set of the four. Well-played, well-produced, en­gaging if you want to, but skippable on the whole. Which is just a little sad, since Post is one of my favorite Björk albums — then again, maybe she just didn't have the gall to mess around with perfection. Who knows.

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