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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

Bjork's Quirks Give Way to a Enchanting Vision

* * * 1/2 BJORK, "Homogenic," Elektra

September 21, 1997|Richard Cromelin

Bjork recorded her third solo album in Spain, but the Icelander didn't let anything Mediterranean leak in. "Homogenic" is a pure issue of Nordic nature--an imperative she acknowledges in the opening "Hunter," singing, "I thought I could organize freedom/How Scandinavian of me."

The way she shapes that couplet, extending the syllables of the second line without losing momentum or power, demonstrates Bjork's ability to hit emotional targets with eccentric instinctiveness. But "Homogenic" has none of the self-conscious quirkiness she's been prey to in the past. It represents a fulfilled form of idiosyncrasy.

The album has the familiar Bjork signatures--electronic arrangements from the English dance-music scene, blending and contrasting with string orchestrations. But on her first self-produced collection, she advances the elements into a refined vision.

The result is a more austere, demanding and rewarding experience, marked by shifting textures and a crystalline purity. The songs use empty space to create a sense of vastness and foreboding, and there's a stark beauty in the smooth textures and rich melodies.

Bjork delivers her terse accusations and promises of comfort and guidance with pliant expressiveness. It's an enigmatic but resonant album that affirms her stature as one of pop music's most uncompromising adventurers.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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