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Bjork - Family Tree Box Set

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 15 / 1 / 2003

Bjork - Family Tree Box Set


One of the world's finest artistes, Bjork has never been anything if not unpredictable. Long term fan Anthony Strutt finds her once again pushing back boundaries with her new box set, 'Family Tree'

Bjork is to me one of the world's finest artistes. She constantly pushes back boundaries of what can and can't be done in the name of modern music. 'Family Tree' has its bad points, but it is not because of the music. That is for sure. The packaging is very arty and it quickly starts to fall apart even if you do look after it. It is not cheap either, retailing at about £45. 'Family Tree' consists of five 3 inch CDs, and one standard 5 inch CD. The music collected on the 3 inch discs is mostly unreleased, and a total joy. These discs would have been very fashionable around about 1988. Each one, however, only lasts from around 15 to 20 minutes, so in other terms the whole package could have all been put on three normal discs in a decent box. There is nothing normal though about Bjork , thank God. The six discs also also come with a booklet of lyrics and 28 photos that appear in a pink plastic box wrapped in a white outer layer. Predictably this is the bit that starts to fall apart. And so to the music. The 3" discs are broken up into 'Roots', 'Beats' and "Strings' sections, while the 5" CD is a 'Greatest Hits' collection. This collection was, however, chosen by Bjork, whilst a standard 'Greatest Hits' collection, which has been released simultaneously with 'Family Tree', was chosen by fans. It, however, consists mainly of singles, including her latest one 'It's in Our Hands' which was limited to just 5000 worldwide. This isn't, however, on 'Family Tree', and nor is a new extra track which appears on the DVD version of 'Greatest Hits'. 'Roots', which takes up two of the discs, kicks off with the Icelandic song, 'Sidasta Eg' from '83 and has a strong vocal and some very nice plucked electric guitar. 'Gloria', which is again from '83, is next and has Bjork playing an instrumental on a flute. 'Fuglar' follows from '84, and, the oldest project on 'Family Tree', features, as well as Bjork, her former bandmates Einar Benediktsson and Siggi Balduresson pre the Sugarcubes. Punkish and angry, it is a good blue print for the Sugarcubes whom Bjork formed two years later on the day she gave birth to her son. The next 2 tracks are by the Sugarcubes and both come from '88. There is first of all an Icelandic version of 'Birthday' which is listed here as 'Ammaeli' and this is followed by 'Mamma'. The second CD of 'Roots' starts with a very quiet and heartfelt version of 'Immature' from '97. Next on there is 'Cover Me' from '95, which is haunting, to say the least, and sounds a bit gothy and church like. After that there is a live version of 'Generous Palmstroke' recorded in Rome in 2001 which sounds like her unplugged performance from the Electric Cinema from '93. This is then followed by a strings and vocal mix of 'Joga'. The disc ends with 'Mother Heroic' which has Bjork at her best and in a fairytale like state singing the lyrics of a poem by E.E. Cummings. The third disc, 'Beats' is by no means the strongest disc but features a lovely Icelandic 'Karvel' from '94 with 808 State's Graham Massey. The last two 3 inch discs features Bjork with the Brodsky Quartet and finds her returning to her classical roots. These two discs make it for me and have songs on them that make me love her forever, including string mixes of 'Possibly Maybe', 'Play Dead', 'Hunter', 'Bachlerlotte' and a Thom Yorke less 'I've Seen It All'. The latter of these comes from her best ever work, 'Selmasongs', the soundtrack to 'Dancer in the Dark' which I love even though I cry through the album and the film every time I listen to or watch them, but each time for different reasons. Her humanity comes across on everything she does. Bjork is real. She is not produced. She is who she she is and proud of it. The one and only disappointing quality about the soundtrack is the original versions used in the film are not on the soundtrack. Bjork in the film uses sounds and life's noises as instruments, including running water, banging machines and rolling train engines. The final disc has all her own favourites, and, unlike the fan's choice, includes two of 'Selmasongs', and the Thom Yorke version of 'I've Seen It All', which is one of the stand out scenes in the film and pure Holywood 50's style musical entertainment. We come to an end then. Will you like this ? Do you like Bjork ? Then buy it. If you don't then come back when you are old enough to accept the world's greatest living artist into your heart and soul.

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Bjork - Family Tree Box Set

Bjork - Family Tree Box Set

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