Originally publshed in Plan B magazine, May 2008 –

Bjork, Hammersmith Apollo, 14.04.08

The beast is back; her face is buried in a constellation of rainbow suns, her footprints are luminous. Fire streams out across the evening’s purple, then disappears, leaving thick marshmallow traces. A twilit toadsong fills everything, and I begin to change. Here’s what happened first, though, and it happened years ago: she sprang forward on the teeth of a roar, fastened her sticky pads on my throat, wrestled me down with strong back legs and kissed me, gripping my surprised tongue with hers and pulling, pulling, stretching out, until what emerged from my throat was a string of small flags, decorated with the heraldry of my individual vertebrae, shining like new scales, scented with iron and oak.

Tonight, there are songs for a shield and a voice for a sword. There are cayman and marlin and martlet, drums and brass and kora, helmets and pennants and spears for spines. There are patterns small and large, within and between songs, around and over arrangements. ‘Earth Intruders’ sets out to beguile; I could swear she is singing in runes, stalking the stage like an oracle, each word flung down separately to spell out a future – turmoil, carnage, she tears off her mask – ill-omened by the rumble of Corsano’s drums and Damian Taylor’s beats. The stage darkens to an orange glow for ‘The Dull Flame Of Desire’, and she duels rather than duets with Antony Hegarty, bearing down on his voice, the lulling creak of it, with a merciless electric crackle in her throat. A vampish ‘Hunter’ climaxes with furious streams of technicolour energy blasting thirty feet across the stage from her hands.

There is no gentleness here, no ‘Pneumonia’, no ‘All Is Full Of love’; ‘Hyperballad’ and ‘Joga’ are hectic, laser-tongues flicking over the debris; even ‘Unravel’ has mutated in this swamp-light, its refrain turned from affectionate repetition to chilly insistence, its verses from plaint to blame. ‘Byrin Min’ is pared down like bones, Jonas Sen picking at a toothsome harpsichord part. Only the considered, loving ambition of ‘Desired Constellation’ and the untrammelled goodwill of ‘Hope’, better expressed by Toumani Diabate’s glorious kora than by the vocal’s eternal whirlwind, provide any break in the happy hostilities. But not for long.

She has marshalled her hoplites; shaking their manes and stamping, dancing in between one another with their long brass noses, they blare out in terrible unison. ‘Excuse me’, she hisses, ‘but I just have to… explode,’ and she gathers the energy rippling along her arms and flings it, fists clenched, in our faces, over and over. It feels like skin peeling back. Lasers peck out the eyes of those in the balconies; my lips flatten against my teeth, my teeth revert to bone, my bones petrify, and she screams in absolute triumph, sinking back into the darkness, flanked by her macabre menagerie. My anatomy, my own terrain, my interior flag, is in rebellion; my ideas of me submit to an inexorable will. For some time, everything is roaring and stamping in blackness, until her return.


~ by bunnyrabble on March 26, 2009.

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