Leave it to Björk to make a concert release that can be treated as part of her regular body of work rather than a side note. While Björk fans have occasionally complained about the amount of repackaging of her albums, Voltaic reaffirms just how important the live aspect is to her music, and provides a couple of different perspectives on it as well. Volta sparked a particularly inspired and lavish tour that, arguably, ended up being bigger than the actual album was, but tapped into the most dramatic, primal, and elegant aspects of Björk's art overall. It's fitting, then, that the chronicles of the Volta tour are just as thoughtfully crafted as the shows were (and since Voltaic comes in several different releases ranging from a single live disc to a CD, DVD, and vinyl extravaganza, fans can pick the size that suits them best). The basic version of Voltaic offers a live CD recorded in one take at London's Olympic Studio, just hours before Björk and her band -- which included Volta collaborators Mark Bell and Chris Corsano as well as the ten-piece all-female Icelandic brass section/choir she put together for the album -- played 2007's Glastonbury Festival. Given that the live CD was recorded in better conditions than many studio albums are, it's no surprise that the sound quality is excellent -- almost too excellent. This is not a warts-and-all concert recording with the occasional muddy audio and lots of crowd interaction; instead, it feels like the listener is hiding in a studio booth as Björk and her band perform a flawless rehearsal. While this approach is a little removed, the results are impressive: the Volta tracks ("Earth Intruders," "Wanderlust," "Vertebrae by Vertebrae," and "Declare Independence") actually have more impact here than they did on the original album, while the classic songs ("Pagan Poetry," "All Is Full of Love," "Hunter," "I Miss You") adapt to the percussion-heavy Volta approach well. While the versions of Voltaic that include a DVD capture even more of the concert experience, this release still offers fans a taste of the power and precision of the Volta live shows.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares