Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Songs #285 & 286 - It's TWOsday!

Song #285 of 9999                                                  Song #286 of 9999

Title: Where is the Line                                            Title: Something to Fall Back On
Artist: Björk                                                               Artist: Todd Rundgren
Year: 2004                                                               Year: 1985
Album: Medúlla                                                        Album: A Capella

I suppose anyone with a voice like Björk's would at some point entertain the idea of an a capella record. And it's really no surprise that someone with her creative mind would make a record that refuses to let such a limitation be confining in any way. Medúlla takes full advantage of modern-by-2004 studio manipulation to turn voices into instruments, tongue clicking into percussion, sighs and moans into atmosphere. It is truly a technical and artistic achievement of the highest order (even if this critic would say it leans toward the former).

It should come as no surprise that this (like almost everything) has been done before with equally mixed results. Todd Rundgren didn't have the supercomputers we have today in 1985 when he made A Capella, but he took full advantage of new digital sampling techniques and other advances to make an album that is at times very moving ("Pretending to Care") and at others very silly ("Lockjaw"). Given the technical limitations he faced, Rundgren made no less ambitious an album than Björk but, sadly, it also suffers from uneven songwriting. "Something to Fall Back On" is a pretty good example of what he was able to achieve technically, but some of the more traditional a capella numbers ("Pretending to Care," "Honest Work") are better.

Honestly, I think I prefer Todd's record, but I'll give the video win to Björk. :)

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