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One weekend in 1992, Björk affronted up at the aperture of a terraced abode in Moss Side, Manchester. There to accost her was Graham Massey of cyberbanking music antecedents 808 State. The brace had met before, aback the Icelandic accompanist helped abode two songs for 808 State’s third anthology ex:el. This time – accepting afresh larboard her own accumulation The Sugarcubes to commence on a abandoned career – Björk was acquisitive Massey could acknowledgment the favour.
Over the advance of that day, in a makeshift flat set up in the advanced room, the two musicians came up with a brace of songs. One was a ballad; the other, a active banger based about a boom bend adopted from Led Zeppelin’s Aback The Levee Breaks. During the chorus, Björk aching a 10p bread bottomward the close of her bass guitar. The clue came to be accepted as Army of Me.
“It was absolutely spontaneous,” Massey tells me now. “We knew there was an activity to Army of Me. But it seemed too easy, too simple. It was aloof a breakbeat and a arrangement and a affectionate of scat vocal.” Aback neither of that day’s songs were included on Björk’s aboriginal abandoned album, Debut, the afterward year, Massey feared they would never see the ablaze of day, but they reappeared on its follow-up, 1995’s Post. What’s more, Army of Me, re-recorded afterwards the Zeppelin sample from the audience but application its alarming bite, became the album’s advance distinct and Björk’s aboriginal UK top 10 hit.
Now, 25 years on from its release, Column is apparent as one of the finest albums of the Nineties – weird, admirable and widescreen. Musically, it spans techno, cruise hop, applesauce and the affectionate of glitchy ambient soundscapes that would afterwards become Radiohead’s signature. Commercially, it apparent Björk’s zenith, peaking at cardinal two in the UK anthology archive and activity on to spawn two added top 10 singles (It’s Oh So Quiet and Hyperballad). Howard Bernstein, the artisan accepted as Howie B who co-produced and engineered the album, believes that Column showed added musicians aloof how adventurous they could be: “It created amplitude for music to jump off a diving board,” as he put it. It additionally affronted Björk into a superstar.
But analytical and bartering success brought with them adverse consequences. By the time Björk started assignment on her abutting album, Homogenic, her activity had spiralled out of control. Her music would never complete the aforementioned again.
In 1993, Björk Gumundsdóttir confused to London, where, she has said, she lived “the best blessed life”. Not yet 30, she absorbed herself in club culture. “She was active large, definitely,” says Massey. “We were clubbing left, appropriate and centre,” Bernstein recalls. “It wasn’t aloof London. It was New York, Paris, everywhere. It was a appealing activating time.”
Björk was far added absorbed in cyberbanking music than Britpop; she adopted Aphex Twin and Tricky (with whom she formed on Column and afterwards dated) to Pulp, Blur or Oasis. Wherever she went, she best up agreeable influences, like a client on a spree, arch Bono to dub her “the Imelda Marcos of acceptable ideas”.
Björk’s bite for analysis continued to the recording of Post. It has been rumoured that she sang the echoey anthology clue Awning Me while naked in a cavern abounding of bats. Bernstein, who was with her in the Bahamas at the time, dispels this myth, although it is true, he says, that Björk had capital to almanac the clue in a cavern for its “beautiful reverb”, alike admitting he reassured her he could use bond board cheat to actualize the aforementioned aftereffect in a studio. Aback she insisted, Bernstein had a appropriate alfresco microphone aureate in from Miami and the aggregation trekked to a adjacent cave.
“There was a absolutely baby aperture to get in and it was abounding of bats,” says Bernstein . “It took me about three account to go advanced and I came aback on my knees in about two seconds… And afresh Björk went in and she came out aloof as quickly.” But the accompanist did almanac addition clue while continuing in the sea with a continued microphone advance addition to a agent architect on the beach. “It was absolutely an agitative affair because there was a able accident of her accepting an electric shock,” recalls Bernstein.
Post was appear on June 13 1995 amidst a blast of problems. The aboriginal affected awning photo shoot was scrapped at a amount of £24,000 for article added poppy and colourful, and MTV briefly banned the video for Army of Me which appeared to appearance Björk bombing an art museum.
Then, a sample on the clue Possibly Maybe became the accountable of a accusation launched adjoin the singer. Björk and Derek Birkett, the bang-up of her almanac label, One Little Indian, responded by aggressive to anamnesis and abort all 750,000 copies of Column afore the bearings was bound afterwards a day in court.
But these obstacles were annihilation compared with what happened next. In July that year, the accompanist boarded on a backbreaking 105-date apple tour. Still on the alley the afterward February, she accustomed at Bangkok airport accompanied by her nine year-old son, Sindri. The brace were walking through the arrivals terminal aback a radio reporter, Julie Kaufman, approached them, saying: “Welcome to Bangkok.”
Video footage afresh shows a ashen Björk ambush on Kaufman and battle her to the arena in advanced of a army of columnist photographers. Kaufman can be apparent aggravating to avert herself with her microphone afore Björk is pulled off her and led away. She would afterwards affirmation that Kaufman had directed the greeting at Sindri and had been aggravation her for days. The affray was appear about the world. “I was gobsmacked by that,” Bernstein tells me, affirmation that the accompanist was the one beneath attack. “It was like ‘Whoah!’ In advanced of her kid. It hit us all… an attack’s an attack.” Björk, he says, was “in bits” about the incident. She afterwards apologised to Kaufman who chose not to columnist charges.
That autumn, things took an alike bleaker turn. On September 12, Ricardo López – an obsessional fan said to be affronted that Björk was in a adventurous accord with boom and bass artisan Goldie – filmed himself in his Florida accommodation advancing to accelerate a bootleg acerbic bomb buried in a hollowed-out book to her London address. On his acknowledgment from the column office, López started filming again. Continuing naked in advanced of the camera, with Björk’s music arena in the background, he placed a blaster in his aperture and pulled the trigger. Police begin his anatomy four canicule later. In the UK, admiral intercepted and detonated his atomic device.
Speaking to reporters alfresco her London home afterwards, visibly shocked, Björk said it was a “very sad affair aback somebody shoots their face off”. She apprenticed admirers not to get complex in her claimed activity and reportedly beatific flowers to López’s family. For Björk, aggregate had changed. “It wasn’t aloof the letter bomb. Things were accident all about me, and I realised that I’d appear to the end of the character thing,” she would say.
She larboard London, affective aboriginal to Spain and afresh aback to Iceland, saying, “I had to go home and chase for myself again.” As Bernstein puts it, “It was time for her to regroup and amend what was activity on.” On a 1997 documentary, Björk says she acquainted that absolution those aboriginal abandoned albums had put her “in acute danger”, such was the rollercoaster blitz of what followed. “When you’ve gone to that acceleration of active – like, 9,000mph – you don’t absolutely achromatize down,” she says. “I anticipate you array of backfire absolutely and crash. That’s what I did.”
If Column was, in Massey’s words, the complete of “a annual opening”, Homogenic was an assay of that flower’s roots – sparser, colder, added isolated. It was the complete of an artisan beat inwards. Björk continues to absolution intriguing, acclaimed music today. But, afterwards Post’s alarming stress, she would never acknowledgment to its carefree, carnival world. The blowzy contest that followed signalled the end of chastity for Björk.
The affair was over.
This allotment is allotment of Behind the Music – a account alternation adulatory music’s untold stories, from band-splitting feuds to the greatest performances of all time.
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