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Music / Vespertine

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Swirling black lilies, totally ripe...

I have a recurrent dream
Everytime I lose my voice
I swallow little glowing lights
My mother and son baked for me

Vespertine is the fifth studio album by Björk, released in 2001. It is likely the most minimal and intimate album she's ever made due to both its glitchy, ambient sound and its sensual, erotic lyrics being inspired by her relationship to her partner at the time, visual/video/performance artist Matthew Barney.

Björk described the album as the complete opposite of the previous record, Homogenic.

Vespertine can be construed as a prequel, however unintentional, to her future album Vulnicura, where the arrangements and style are similar, only instead of celebrating the blooming of a relationship, she works through and mourns its dissolution.


  1. "Hidden Place" (5:28)
  2. "Cocoon" (4:28)
  3. "It's Not Up To You" (5:08)
  4. "Undo" (5:38)
  5. "Pagan Poetry" (5:14)
  6. "Frosti" (1:41)
  7. "Aurora" (4:39)
  8. "An Echo, A Stain" (4:04)
  9. "Sun In My Mouth" (2:40)
  10. "Heirloom" (5:12)
  11. "Harm Of Will" (4:36)
  12. "Unison" (6:45)

Hidden Tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: "Pagan Poetry".
  • Animal Motifs: Swan, as a 'romantic, wintry bird'. Though it is not present in the song, Björk imbued swan in another aspect, such as the swan dress on the cover and in her live performance during this era.
  • Animated Music Video: "Pagan Poetry", to an extent.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Harm Of Will" has lines in Icelandic.
  • Continuity Nod: Björk is wearing her iconic swan dress note  on the cover, the very same she wore when she went to the Academy Awards in 2000. This is also her second album after Homogenic named after a scientific term.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who also directed the music video for "Hidden Place". If you look very closely, you can just barely make out the title of the album hidden in all those thin white lines.
  • Ethereal Choir: A choir ends "It's Not Up To You".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Shuffling cards supplied the basis for the microbeats in "Cocoon" and "Hidden Place." You also hear snow being walked upon on "Aurora" and ice being cracked and smashed on "Frosti."
  • Fan Disservice: In the video for "Pagan Poetry." Any eroticism here isn't for the fan's benefit, and as such isn't always pleasant to watch, or even decipherable.
  • Instrumentals: "Frosti" is arranged for and played on a music box.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Vespertine" had a more accessible, intimate sound than its predecessors, especially when compared to her dense, angsty previous album Homogenic. Some parts of it belong to the darkest Björk has done though, so it could count as zigzagged.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the magical "Aurora", listeners are presented with the omnious, creepy "An Echo, A Stain".
  • New Sound Album: As expected from Bjork at this point.
  • Non-Appearing Title:
    • The word "vespertine" never comes up in any of the lyrics of the album.
    • Also the case for "Coccoon," "Heirloom," and "Harm of Will."
  • Orifice Invasion: During the video for "Hidden Place," fluids flow in and out of Björk's nose, mouth and ears, but she doesn't seem to be bothered by it.
  • One-Woman Wail: Notably at the end of "It's Not Up To You".
  • One-Word Title: "Cocoon", "Undo", "Frosti", "Aurora", "Heirloom" and "Unison".
  • Oral Fixation: A common theme throughout the album.
  • The Power of Love: Another common theme throughout the album.
  • Sampling:
    • "Hidden Place" samples Arnold Schoenberg's "Verklärte Nacht, Opus 4" ("Transfigured Night, Op.4").
    • "Undo" samples "1% In 2/3 Speed", in "While You Were Sleeping" by Opiate.
    • "Unison" samples "Aero Deck" by Oval.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: "Pagan Poetry".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "An Echo, A Stain" takes many of its lyrics from Sarah Kane's extremely disturbing play Crave.
    • The lyrics of "Sun In My Mouth" are adapted from "I Will Wade Out" by E. E. Cummings, with the exception of the last few lines, and the word "sea-girls," which is changed into "seagulls".
  • Special Guest: Film director Harmony Korine wrote the lyrics of "Harm of Will". Electronic musician Matthew Herbert did programming.
  • Silly Love Songs: Weird ones, but occasionally silly, and very much loving.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: "Undo".
  • Surreal Music Video:
    • The video of "Cocoon" was shot by Eiko Ishioka and features Björk in a white costume with bleached eyebrows, making her appear as a geisha. Red threads emerge from her nipples and circulate between her breasts and nose, enveloping her in a cocoon.
    • "Hidden Place", directed by Inez van Kamsweerde and Vinnodh Matadin, shows of the camera panning around Björk's face, as fluids flow in and out of her nose, mouth and ears.
    • "Pagan Poetry", directed by Nick Knight, features a woman preparing herself for marriage as she sews a wedding dress into her skin. The video also shows highly distorted images of Björk having sex with her partner and close-up shots of skin being pierced. As a result it was banned from MTV.
  • World Music: "It's Not Up To You" ends with Japanese sounding harp music.
  • Yandere: "An Echo, A Stain"
    Don't say no to me, you can't say no to me