Vitamin String Quartet

Ice: The String Tribute to Björk

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Ice is an instrumental tribute to the music of Björk. It features ten tracks culled from the Icelandic performer's post-Sugarcubes output, focusing specifically on material from Debut, Post, and Homogenic. What's remarkable -- or perhaps unremarkable -- is the ease with which many of these songs are translated to violin, viola, cello, and bass. Björk is one of the few artists working successfully within the increasingly narrow parameters of popular music while accessing multiple genres and influences. This means that her music is as likely to feature drum programming as it is a full section of reeds. That said, Homogenic's "Joga" appears here, stripped of the stippling drum'n'bass that skittered across the surface of the strings in the original. Instead, unadorned violin and viola employ the full emotional range of the melody. A bass stalks the bottom end of "Army of Me" as eerie reverb and chorus effects make the violins sound like carrion birds calling to one another from the parapets. And Debut's "Big Time Sensuality and "Human Behavior" end up resembling the more urgent material from Björk's later solo efforts. An example of this is "Bachelorette." The original crossed its hissing, crackling electronics with a plaintive string section. The Ice version removes the beats and the vocal, but retains the strings. Like "Joga," "Bachelorette"'s sad, sweeping melody is rendered beautifully by the symphonic arrangement. While Ice was not endorsed by the artist herself, the album is such a success that it could stand next to Björk's own Telegram remix LP as a document of her songs' limitless potential for sonic exploration.

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