I'd purchased a ticket to Björk's Carnegie Hall concert as a marker of my 45th birthday. I did not realize, until I attended, that this was to be the very first public performance of the music from Vulnicura, her new album. Like many of my friends, I'd been a Björk fan since the days of the Sugarcubes, when her utterly earthly voice cut through the guitar wash of "Birthday" to greet my hungry late-teenaged ears. Her solo albums, through some private synchrony, have shown up at pivotal moments in my own life journey. And so, they have helped me through and helped me remember intensely beautiful and challenging passages.
The potency of Vulnicura rests in great measure within this artist's capacity to trust in her own voice and presence. Everything is stripped back. Melodies are atomized. It is naked, unflinching, unapologetically direct and clear. She stands in each of the underworld spaces and cries out truth; it is a real and righteous record of the dissolution of a life/love/relationship and of the many realities-in-the-making which die as a result of that dissolution.
The concert added a huge dimension. It was ritual. Björk drew on ancient wisdom. Earth-based spirituality, so old it's in the bones met ultra modernity. Arca's precise and bold sonic contributions along with the percussionist and string players' powerful layers set the stage for Björk to enact that most primal of cyclical rituals - standing at the edge of the darkest winter and proclaiming the return of Spring, of lengthening light, of resilience, of the shivering, vulnerable new self, skin shed, raw... here.