Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Bjork: Post (One Little Indian, CD/LP/tape). It takes a dozen listens to get used to this album, but only one to realise that you want to listen to it a dozen times. It's the sequel, two years on, to the gigantically acclaimed Debut (though Bjork's real solo debut was released when she was just 11). To my mind, the foundation of her appeal is that she has not grown up. Those vocals, those wrinkle-nosed squeals and shouts and burbles, are unique - because every other adult has learnt that grown- ups just don't sing like that. Bjork's cannily utilised childishness means that she is not constrained by such preconceptions. On Post she keeps exploring, and happens upon big-band show-stoppers, whimsical techno-folk ballads, off-kilter dance tracks, harpsichords, strings and computerised bleeps. She takes a few wrong-turnings, but you can forgive a little contrary dumbness when her wide-eyed travels take her to unmapped lands of bittersweet romance: the lyrics of "I Miss You", "Enjoy" and "Possibly Maybe" confirm her status as the Lorenz Hart of 1990s female Icelandic pop vocalists. In his first novel, Rob Newman uses "bjorkest" as an adjective. This fascinating kaleidoscope of a record is the bjorkest album of the year. Nicholas Barber

Wolf: Spanisches Liederbuch. Anne-Sofie Von Otter, Olaf Bar, Geoffrey Parsons (EMI, two CDs). All 44 of Wolf's Spanish settings appear here, but not in the order you expect: the discs result from concert experiments with regrouping the songs into longer narrative sequences. Whether you find this illuminating or irritating is a matter of taste, but the readings are immaculate. Bar, who was struggling with serious vocal problems a few years ago, is back on form; although the voice could ideally be richer, the intelligence and musicality of his singing is exemplary. Von Otter knows just how far to take the theatre of the songs (witness how deftly she steers the emotional course of the final "Geh, Geliebter, Geh Jetzt"). And Geoffrey Parsons is heaven's own choice of an accompanist. The recordings include some of his last studio sessions before he died, and they make a handsome memorial - alongside all the other discs that will, I've no doubt, keep his name alive as one of the most accomplished and best-loved modern pianists. Michael White

Ivor Cutler: Life in a Scotch Sitting Room Vol 2 (Rev-Ola, CD). Given the long and scandalous unavailability of his work on CD, this will be some people's first contact with the unique mind of Ivor Cutler. It is almost frightening to imagine the degree of mingled pleasure and psychic disturbance that awaits them. Recorded live on Sauchiehall Street in 1977, this choice selection of autobiographical fragments makes a fine introduction to the work of the great Glaswegian poet, composer and humourist. There are none of his strange, sensuous songs here, but the 17 spoken-word pieces are punctuated with the odd breath of harmonium, and the lugubrious sonority of Cutler's voice is music in itself. "But the blood soon dried, and I had the pleasure of picking the clots": there aren't many people who could make that sentence sound like a haiku. Various Artists: Anthems Vol