Volta (album)

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Volta
In the picture we can see in front of a red background, a king of metal sculpture with the shape of a "fat" bottle with feet, decorated with many colours and flowers, it has a big pearl in one of its sides, and it has a hole, which through we can see Björk's head.
Studio album by Björk
Released May 1, 2007 (Mexico)
(See release history)
Recorded 2005–2007
Genre Electronica, industrial, alternative, experimental, chamber pop[1]
Length 51:03
Label One Little Indian (UK), Polydor (Europe), Elektra, Atlantic (NA)
Producer Björk, Timbaland, Danja, Mark Bell, Damian Taylor
Björk chronology
(____surrounded):
(2006)
Volta
(2007)
Voltaïc
(2009)
Alternative cover
Latin American, East European, Universal special editions, Universal Music Indonesia standard editions
Singles from Volta
  1. "Earth Intruders"
    Released: April 9, 2007
  2. "Innocence"
    Released: July 23, 2007
  3. "Declare Independence"
    Released: January 1, 2008
  4. "Wanderlust"
    Released: June 12, 2008
  5. "The Dull Flame of Desire"
    Released: September 29, 2008

Volta is the seventh studio album by Icelandic musician Björk, released in May 2007. It was produced by Björk, Mark Bell, Timbaland and Danja. The music of Volta was a new style for Björk, focusing on music combining African-influenced beats with horn sections and elements of industrial music. The full album was accidentally made available on the UK iTunes Store at midnight on April 23, 2007 for a total of six hours, two weeks before the album's official release date.[2] This led to the album being leaked online the following day.[3] It has been certified Silver in the United Kingdom.

The album attracted attention due to the inclusion of three tracks co-produced by R&B record producer Timbaland.[4] Volta marked the first of several production collaborations between Timbaland and Björk, whom Björk would cite as a major influence on her musical career. The album was highly acclaimed on its initial release and continues to be praised by critics. Volta spent nine weeks at number one on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart and in the first three months of release sold over half a million copies worldwide. The lead single, "Earth Intruders", reached number 67 on the UK Official Download Chart, and number 78 on the main UK Singles Chart, while the remix EP later released charted on its own at #150. In the United States, the song debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number 84 in the issue dated April 28, 2007. Björk went on an 18 month tour in support of the album, which was her first tour in four years.

The album was re-released in June 2009 under the name Voltaïc. It refers to five separate releases of related material from Volta. The full version of the release includes a CD of 11 songs performed live at the Olympic Studios, a DVD of Björk's live performances in Paris and Reykjavík during the Volta tour, a second DVD of the Volta music videos as well as videos of the top ten runners-up from the "Innocence" video contest, and a second CD of remixes from Volta's singles.[5] The official worldwide release date of all editions was June 23, 2009.[6] The artwork was nominated for an award at the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Awards.[7]

Background and development[edit]

In an interview for daily Internet publication Pitchfork Media, Björk talked for the first time about the theme of the album.[8]

But with this one, it was different because I knew more emotionally what I wanted. And because I'd done two or three projects in a row that were quite serious, maybe I just needed to get that out of my system or something. So all I wanted to do for this album was just to have fun and do something that was full-bodied and really up.

In the run-up to the release of the album, many media outlets were lauding the album as a return to the supposed "pop" sound of Björk's earlier solo albums Debut and Post. This was due in part to the inclusion of three tracks co-produced by record producer Timbaland; in interviews before the album's release he had stated that seven of the tracks he worked with Björk on would end up on her album,[9] seemingly indicating that there would be more of Timbaland's involvement on the record than there eventually was. At the time Timbaland had also had recent hits with Justin Timberlake (SexyBack) and Nelly Furtado (Promiscuous and Maneater), with him and his protégé Danja being responsible for some of the biggest hits of 2006 and 2007. As the news of Björk having worked with Timbaland spread across the internet, many websites started speculating on whether the album would be "hip hop" flavoured; in one interview Timbaland himself referred to the upcoming album as "hip hop".[10]

It’s crazy – I’m going tonight to go hear it. It’s hip hop. I can’t really describe it to you – if I had it right now I’d just play it to you. That’s the best way for you to understand, and I’d let you tell me what it is.

The online music magazine Pitchfork Media, in their exclusive first interview with Björk for the promotion of Volta, quoted Björk as saying that the new album would be "full-bodied and really up".[8] This was taken by fans as further evidence of a more "pop" album (as compared to her more recent output). A week later the head of Björk's record company, Derek Birkett, heralded the new album as "the most commercial thing she's ever done" in Music Week, the trade paper for the UK record industry.[11]

Björk has since stated that the album was not "hip hop" and that she had not intended for it to be so either. She said that she did not want to work with Timbaland as a "hitmaker", or because of his affiliation to a particular genre, but wanted to work with him solely as a musician in his own right. Björk has also explained that when the two of them were together, Timbaland asked Björk what kind of music she would like to make with him, for example a hit song or "something weird", and Björk replied that she was interested in finding out where they "overlapped" musically, and they would go from there. The result was a tribal sound, because they were both interested in it. She has also said that One Little Indian "always feel that ‘my latest release is the most commercial to date’",[12] and that she feels Volta is no more commercial than any of her previous work.

Recording and production[edit]

Björk performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2007.

A wide array of artists collaborated with Björk on material for the album. Björk first contacted Timbaland about a possible collaboration in December 2005.[citation needed] The first session took place in February 2006 in Studio 4 at Manhattan Center Studios in New York City, USA,[13][14][15] soon after Björk had visited Banda Aceh in February 2006 to view some of UNICEF's work with the children who were affected by the tsunami - in May 2005 Björk released the charity album Army of Me: Remixes and Covers to help UNICEF's work in the south east Asian region.[16] Björk's experiences in Indonesia led to the track "Earth Intruders", originally a ten-minute jam which Björk then subsequently edited for the album version. Björk collaborated on seven tracks in total with Timbaland.[17] Timbaland had stated that he intended one of the tracks he did with Björk to appear on his new solo album but this did not materialise.[18][19] The lead-off single from Volta, "Earth Intruders", is co-produced by Timbaland, as well as the second single "Innocence"; the album track "Hope" is co-written by Timbaland.[6][20] Björk has stated that the other Timbaland tracks are unlikely to ever be released.[21]

Antony Hegarty, frontman and lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons, appears on the album for two duets—"The Dull Flame of Desire" and "My Juvenile".[22][23] The collaborative sessions took place in Jamaica.[24]

Björk has also put together her own fourteen-piece brass section of female Icelandic musicians who play on three tracks on the album. Its members comprise Sylvía Hlynsdóttir, Ása Berglind Hjálmarsdóttir, Dröfn Helgadóttir, Valdís Þorkelsdóttir, Karen J. Sturlaugsson, Björk Níelsdóttir, Sigrún Jónsdóttir, Harpa Jóhannsdóttir, Vilborg Jónsdóttir, Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir, Erla Axelsdóttir, Særún Pálmadóttir, Lilja Valdimarsdóttir and Brynja Guðmundsdóttir.[25]

Other collaborators include American drummers Brian Chippendale and Chris Corsano, Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, Congolese ensemble Konono N°1,[26] Chinese pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, British electronic musician Mark Bell, Icelandic lyricist Sjón[27] programmer and engineer Damian Taylor and Estonian producer Michael Pärt.

For this album, Björk used brass sounds for almost all the songs. These were sometimes sampled from Björk's previous project, "The Music From Drawing Restraint 9", as in the case of "Vertebræ by Vertebræ". For the song "Pneumonia", Björk drew inspiration from her own bout with the disease and after an emotionally-moving viewing of the film Pan's Labyrinth.

Composition[edit]

"The song "Earth Intruders," in particular, was sculpted soon after Björk awoke from a dream she had during a cross-Atlantic flight to New York. In the dream, the singer said a "tsunami of millions and millions of poverty-stricken people" swelled high above the airplane she was a passenger on. Eventually, the wave overtook the plane, hit land and razed the White House into oblivion. "It's a quite chaotic song," she said of Volta's first single. "Lyrically, it's a collection of all of these images" burned into her memory, from her trip to Indonesia as well as her vivid, in-flight reverie."

—In an interview on mtv.com Björk talked about the background of "Earth Intruders".[28]

The first mention of "Earth Intruders" as a song title was made on allaccess.com on March 10, 2007,[29] and was later confirmed as the lead single through an article in The Guardian on March 11, 2007.[30] On March 26, 2007, a distorted sample of the song was uploaded to YouTube as part of the viral marketing campaign for the Volta album.[31][32] A fifteen second sample of the track then appeared on the Rhino Records online ringtone website on April 1, 2007.[33][34] The purchased ringtone featured a different clip (with different lyrics) to the one used in the online preview on the site; both audio samples were subsequently spread across music forums.[35] On April 3, 2007 it was reported that the Björk section of the Rhino Records online ringtone store had been removed.[36] After a broadcast of the song on the internet radio station WOXY on April 6, 2007 the song was made widely available across file-sharing networks.[37]

On April 7, 2007, the "Mark Stent Extended Edit" was released on the Australian iTunes Store; most other iTunes Stores made the single available on April 9, the official release date of the digital single.[38] The album version of Earth Intruders (which differs from the iTunes Store version both in terms of mixing and track length) was leaked to the internet on April 24, 2007 due to the full album being made available accidentally on the UK iTunes Store on April 23, 2007 for a total of six hours, two weeks before the album's official release date.[39]

A digital-only "Earth Intruders – Club Mixes" EP was released on the iTunes Store in the US/UK on May 21, 2007. The European iTunes release contained only three of the original five tracks.[40] It is only the second time (the first being Play Dead) that an instrumental of a Björk track has been officially released. With this release, it was determined that "Earth Intruders" would have no physical release in any territory worldwide. Also, the Mark Stent mix was initially labelled as an "Extended Edit", but on May 23, 2007, was retitled to "Radio Edit"; the "xxxChange Mix" was retitled from the previous non-descriptive title "Earth Intruders Remix".[41]

"Declare Independence" was originally an instrumental track by British musician and frequent musical collaborator Mark Bell, performed at his live shows as early as November 2006.[42] Björk later added her vocals on top.[43] The lyrics are dedicated to the Faroe Islands and Greenland.[44][45][46]

Björk has described "Wanderlust" as being the heart of Volta,[47] and has said that the song is about "the state of looking for something and almost knowing you're never going to find it" and that it makes fun of her hunger for "something new".[48] It was released in the UK on 30 June.[49] As Björk said in an interview for Harp, "Things go in circles. Wanderlust, for example, is a sort of continuity of 'Hyperballad'."[50]

Release and album title[edit]

Björk has since said that "Initially after its release, I felt Volta was just OK", and that she regards the tour versions of the songs as better than those found on the album - in this sense the live recordings released on Voltaïc are to be seen as the true version of the album.[51] The track titles were confirmed in an article on MTV, March 14, 2007, and confirmed in a post on sprk.nl, 20 March 2007.[23][52] The unreleased Volta track, "Trance",[53] appears in the short film dedicated to Alexander McQueen, "To Lee, With Love, Nick", directed by Nick Knight. The track entitled "Vertebræ by Vertebræ" was retitled from the previous, "Energy". "Vertebræ by Vertebræ" uses brass samples from Björk's previous project, the soundtrack album "The Music from Drawing Restraint 9". Björk has stated that she was interested to find out how the sounds from that soundtrack album would sound like in a less ambient or atmospheric soundscape.

Björk said about the title of the album:

I am always looking for words that have some sort of energy. Usually the name just comes, from a magazine or somebody says something. I had waited for years while working on the album but it didn't come. In the lyrics there are words like "voltage" and "voodoo", which I found to be too common somehow. I have always tried to choose titles which are kind of Latin or something, which aren't english, which is a little funny because we europeans find latin to be sort of neutral language... But I found Volta...

I don't recall how it came about, but I Googled it and found that it is both the name of a scientist in Italy who invented the battery, and also a river in Africa which had been built by men, and a lagoon built by men called Lake Volta. So several parts come into it. I'm not going to name anything specific, people can guess for themselves what it is. There is also a mediaeval dance with carries that name, a very funny dance which is very hard to learn. Thus, I got a lot of things in one word: a dance, a river in Africa which doesn't work anymore, and the battery. So okay - this fits.[54]

Release formats[edit]

Volta was released in three editions in the UK: a digipak CD edition; a limited edition CD/DVD edition (featuring surround audio in DTS); and a double vinyl edition.[55][56] The UK and Japanese editions of the album feature the Mark Bell Mix of "I See Who You Are" as a bonus track.[57][58] Later editions were released in regular jewelcases. As part of the marketing campaign for the album, a series of cryptic videos were circulated on various websites, specifically via YouTube and MySpace. The videos contained distorted audio samples and snippets of the lyrics from some of the tracks on Volta. The videos were discovered on March 28, 2007, though one of the videos had been uploaded to YouTube as early as March 19, 2007.[31] A mysterious MySpace profile (link) was then discovered on March 28, 2007 which featured another cryptic video and four new audio samples. The profile belonged to a fictitious "Gerome Voltaire" (a play on Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electric battery) of the band "itshardtofindabandname" from Iceland. An article on Pitchfork Media on March 29, 2007 later confirmed the authenticity of the viral marketing campaign.[32] A podcast shot by Ragnheidur Gestsdóttir detailing the album's production was made available on iTunes on April 10, 2007 - six episodes were made for download, though the final installment cuts out before the video ends.[59]

Voltaïc edition[edit]

"Voltaïc" special edition cover. It was released in five different formats.

A special edition of the album was released on June 23, 2009 as Voltaïc, and includes two live concerts filmed in Paris and Reykjavík, remixes and videos from the Volta era and a live session at Olympic Studios in London. The release was originally announced as 'Volta Revisited' and rumoured to be released in March 2008, and some online music shops made the album available for pre-order,[60] while the Olympic Studio session was originally announced on September 4, 2007 as the "Live Sessions Album".[61] The Voltaïc release is available in five different editions, each featuring varying versions of the 'full' 2 CD and 2 DVD edition.

The release was subject to numerous delays, mostly due to manufacturing problems. The first mention of the release of live material from the Volta tour was made through an announcement made on Björk's official website regarding a "Live Session Album" made at the now-closed Olympic Studios.[62] This was then followed by online stores adding to their pages a release titled "Volta Revisited" in February 2008,[63] with projected (and incorrect) release dates of April/May 2008 listed. An email from Derek Birkett, head of One Little Indian, stated the proposed contents of the release, meant to 'tie-up' the Volta compaign. The release was originally not going to include a live DVD, but amongst those items that did not make the final release were the online blips made as part of the viral marketing campaign for Volta, the EPK interview that was used in the Volta podcasts available on the iTunes Store, and an unreleased "AOL Online session".[64]

Björk then filmed a concert at L'Olympia in Paris, France during the last leg of the Volta tour and a small concert in Reykjavík, Iceland straight after the tour had finished. The "Volta Revisited" collection eventually surfaced as Voltaïc and was to include a live DVD among 3 other discs, although manufacturing problems lead to a delay of up to six months for its release. One manufacturing error led to 20,000 copies of the box-set having to be destroyed, and with a remanufacture necessary, Björk decided to make changes to the track listing resulting in four songs being cut from the live DVD.[65] Towards the end of April 2009 Universal Europe accidentally shipped their copies of Voltaïc early. A statement released by One Little Indian stated that the projected release date was meant to be June 2009 as they wanted all three versions of Voltaïc to be available upon official release - the early shipment by Universal Europe was only of the Deluxe Edition. However, UK-based music retailer CD Wow was found to be for a brief period selling un-cut copies of the box set, before its official release.[66] These copies, which had allegedly been destroyed, were manufactured in Malaysia - and as such contained more tracks than the other released (cut) editions.[67] Voltaïc eventually enjoyed its full official release on June 23, 2009.

Promotion[edit]

On April 21, 2007, Björk appeared as musical guest on an episode of the US comedy-variety show Saturday Night Live in promotion of the album. She performed the songs "Earth Intruders" and "Wanderlust".[68][69][70] On June 8, 2007 (recorded on June 5, 2007), Björk performed on the contemporary UK music show Later With Jools Holland for the fifth time in her solo career.[71] She performed the songs "Earth Intruders", "The Anchor Song", and "Declare Independence." On September 27, 2007, she appeared on the American late night talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien, performing the song "Wanderlust".[72] This show was after her headlining performance at a sold out show at Madison Square Garden.

The lead single from Volta was "Earth Intruders", released digitally on April 9, 2007, though leaked on April 6, 2007.[73][74] Originally expected to be released as a physical single on May 21, 2007, the release was instead replaced by another digital release, "Earth Intruders - Club Mixes", via iTunes. Indeed, there were no chart eligible physical singles released at all during the Volta era, although box sets were eventually released of each single some months after the corresponding digital release.

The second single from Volta was originally meant to be "Declare Independence", but due to the worldwide success of Volta Björk had to perform more international promotion work than her label One Little Indian had originally planned, meaning that the previously-planned video shoot for "Declare Independence" with Michel Gondry in London could not take place. The deadline for the music video contest for "Innocence" (originally announced on March 19, 2007) was then brought forward a month to June 10, 2007 so as to provide a finished video able to coincide with the July release originally planned for Declare Independence. "Innocence", the other Timbaland-co-produced track, was released digitally across the globe on July 23, 2007. It was announced that the release would be available in the US on July 31, 2007,[75] though this date was moved later.

"Declare Independence" was released as the third single from Volta on January 1, 2008.[76] The video, directed by Michel Gondry (his seventh video with Björk, and the first since 1997's Bachelorette), was premiered on AOL on 6 December 2007 and on Channel 4 in the UK on December 13, 2007.[77][78] A making-of was made available on November 29, 2007.[79] The video shoot took place on October 11, 2007 in New York City.[80] Unlike the first two singles from Volta, the single has a physical release in the form of two 12” Vinyls, a CD and a DVD.[81]

Volta tour[edit]

Björk performing at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Björk went on an 18 month tour in support of the album, which was her first tour in four years.[82] On the tour, which was conducted on a month-on/month-off basis, Björk performed with fourteen musicians on stage. Björk's touring band for this tour constisted of drummer Chris Corsano, musician Mark Bell (who also accompanied Björk on the Homogenic tour), pianist Jónas Sen (who played celeste on the tracks Gratitude and Cetacea on the Drawing Restraint 9 soundtrack), musician Damian Taylor and a 10 piece female Icelandic brass section.[6][83][84] Timbaland did not join Björk on the tour.[6] Björk had described the tour as "kind of primitive, raw, almost butch", in marked contrast to her 2001 tour for Vespertine.[85] At several of the concerts Björk had been joined on stage by some of the musicians who collaborated on the album (but who are not part of the touring band), including Antony Hegarty, Min Xiao-Fen and Toumani Diabaté. Many of the live performances from the current tour can be viewed on the video sharing website YouTube, shot by people in the audience. However, Björk has voiced her dislike of fans recording video/taking pictures (with flash) at her concerts using their mobile phones ("little cameras"), stating that it affects her ability to perform.[85][86] The tour is taking Björk to countries that she has not played in for over a decade, including Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Live footage of two concerts in Paris and Reykjavík, as well as a session with the tour band at Olympic Studios, were released as part of the Voltaïc box-set on June 23, 2009.

Although not part of her touring schedule, Björk performed three songs[87] at a benefit concert at Club NASA in Reykjavík on April 1 for FORMA, an Icelandic organisation which deals with people who have eating disorders.[88] Tour rehearsals began shortly before this performance.[89] Björk's touring schedule throughout 2007 and 2008 was as follows.[89]

Björk has used live performances of "Declare Independence" to declare political support for various causes, often to some controversy. At two concerts in Tokyo, Japan she showed her support for Kosovo's declaration of independence. When her upcoming performance at the 2008 Serbian EXIT Festival was cancelled,[90][91] Björk suggested that "Maybe a Serb attended my concert [in Tokyo] and called home, and therefore the concert in Novi Sad was cancelled."[92][93] The organizer behind the EXIT Festival denied that Björk's cancellation from the festival was because of her song dedication to Kosovo; that it was actually their inability to guarantee the safety of her fans.[94] Björk's management maintained that the cancellation was because of the dedication,[95] claiming that they had received an email from EXIT Festival saying that they would only allow the concert to go ahead if Björk's management "denied that Björk has ever [dedicated the song to Kosovo]".[96] On March 7, 2008 EXIT festival organiser Bojan Boscovic changed his position and told NME that Björk has an "open invitation" to play at the festival.[97] Björk's dedicating of "Declare Independence" to the Faroe Islands caused some minor controversy in the country.[44][46]

At a concert in Shanghai, China on March 2, 2008 Björk shouted "Tibet, Tibet!" three times followed by "Raise your flag!" four times during the finale performance of "Declare Independence".[98] Immediately there was an 'uneasy atmosphere' and fans left the venue quickly,[99] and internet forums such as Tianya fielded many negative comments on her statement.[100] China's Ministry of Culture issued a statement denouncing Björk's outburst,[101] and warned that she would be banned from future appearances in China if she repeated such behavior.[102] In an interview, Björk said that she did not "[plan] a trip to China with the purpose of... propaganda" and that Chinese officials "sensationalized" her performance.[103][104] On July 17, 2008 the Chinese Ministry of Culture announced that artistic groups who "threaten national unity" or "whip up ethnic hatred" among other things during live events would be banned from performing. Fans of Oasis and Bob Dylan, who had previously performed in Tibetan Freedom Concerts, blamed the new regulations for their subsequent denials of permission to perform in Chinese venues.[105]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 77/100[106]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [107]
The A.V. Club B+ [108]
Entertainment Weekly B− [109]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention) [110]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars [111]
The Guardian 4/5 stars [112]
NME 8/10 [113]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [114]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars [115]
Stylus Magazine A− [116]

Volta was well received by critics upon its release. According to Metacritic, the album holds a rating of 77/100, indicating favorable reviews,[106] with Allmusic stating that 'Volta finds the perfect balance between her (Björk's) poppier work in the '90s and her experiments in the 2000s. Arwa Haider also stated that 'this (Volta) is arguably (Björk's) strongest album yet', while Priya Elan praised the album as 'another amazing statement of intent-full of hope, eccenticity and wonderfulness.' Michael Keefe, in a more balanced review, said that Volta is not 'a great album, but it is quite good.' The song "Earth Intruders" got favourable reception by music critics. Drowned in Sound reviewer Mike Diver gave the song 9/10, praising it as 'immediately catchy, compellingly left of centre, and undeniably unique'.[117] Digital Spy reviewer Miriam Zendle cited "Earth Intruders" as returning to Björk's earlier commercial sound, comparing it to her more recent albums that were "incredibly difficult to grasp hold of".[118] Music website Popjustice called it the 80th greatest single of 2007.[119] However, Volta also received some mixed reviews with Pitchfork Media stating that 'Volta is mostly proof that Björk is as fallible as the messy, unpredictable humanity she celebrates, and that even her definition of 'pop' is avant-garde.'

Volta spent nine weeks at number one on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart and in the first three months of release sold over half a million copies worldwide. It also managed to peak at number nine in the Billboard 200 charts, making it her highest charting album ever in the United States. Volta was also released by both Polydor and Universal in selected Asian countries including Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia in which each country mentioned had a corresponding tour in 2008. In Japan, the album debuted at #12 in the Oricon Weekly Albums Chart with 16,425 copies sold on its first week of release. The single "Earth Intruders" reached number 67 on the UK Official Download Chart, and number 78 on the main UK Singles Chart, while the remix EP later released charted on its own at #150. In the United States, the song debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number 84 in the issue dated April 28, 2007.[120] This is Björk's highest position on the U.S. Hot 100, the previous being "Big Time Sensuality" in 1993, which peaked at number 88. The single's success on the U.S. charts has been mainly attributed to internet downloads; the single sold 16,000 downloads on the week of its release, propelling it to number 65 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Tracks.[121] The song also peaked at number 75 on the U.S. Billboard Pop 100.[122] Perhaps because of the lack of a physical release, "Innocence" failed to chart in the UK, becoming only the third single of Björk's career up until this point not to chart, the first being "Jóga" in 1997 (the EP charted at #191 in 1998, however), and the second being "Oceania" in 2004.

Music videos[edit]

The music video for "Earth Intruders" was directed by Michel Ocelot and is his first for Björk, or indeed anyone else. It features Björk's face floating in the background, first upside down, then upright, singing with her eyes closed. In the foreground, a large group of silhouetted tribal warriors dance in time to the music. The video features psychedelic colours and patterns imposed on an earthy backdrop. The video ends with Björk's face slowly fading into the middle of a glade, her eyes being opened just as she sings the last lyric. Ocelot stated that Björk had originally wanted Kirikou (the child-hero of Ocelot's Kirikou and the Sorceress and Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages) to be featured as a 20 year-old in the video.[123][124] It was accomplished within strict time constraints through a combination of live-action, silhouette animation, 3D computer graphics, traditional animation, cut-outs and other special effects.[125] "Kirikou" was danced by Legrand Bemba-Debert in a costume made, based on Ocelot's ideas, by paper sculptor Anne-Lise Kœhler.[126]

An exclusive preview was shown during the "Le Grand journal" show on French TV channel Canal+ on 17 April 2007.[127] The full video was made available in the iTunes Store on April 24, 2007.[128] It is also viewable on Björk's official MySpace page and included in letterboxed 576p "PAL" format on both the "Earth Intruders" and "Les Trésors cachés de Michel Ocelot" DVD-Videos and in 480-line, "NTSC" format in the Voltaïc box set. It was nominated for the 2007 Q Award for Best Video.[129]

Björk in the music video for "Wanderlust".

A video was shot for the track "Wanderlust",[130] directed by Encyclopedia Pictura and shot in New York City in stereoscopic 3D.[131] The video involves "a mixture of large scale puppeteering, live action acrobatics, miniatures, and CG".[131] The video and single were released in February 2008.[132] The video was choreographed by Chris Elam, artistic director of Misnomer Dance, and features Brynne Billingsley and Coco Karol.

It was reported on the official site of Antony and the Johnsons that Antony Hegarty and Björk had shot a video for "The Dull Flame of Desire".[133] The news was subsequently removed from the site.[134] Then Björk said in an interview that she and Antony had recorded themselves singing the song on a green screen, that she sent the video to three directors who had taken part in the "Innocence" video contest, and that the directors were doing the "Dull Flame of Desire" video together via e-mail. Björk's official website finally confirmed "The Dull Flame of Desire" to be the fifth single from Volta on July 31, 2008, crediting the following "Innocence" competition applicants as the promotional video's directors: Cristoph Jantos, Masahiro Mogari, and Marçal Cuberta Junca. The single was released in a 2x12" CD/DVD Box Set on September 29, 2008.

A fan contest to submit ideas for the music video for "Innocence" was announced in a news article on bjork.com on March 19, 2007, with the intention being that Björk would work with the chosen fan director to fully flesh out the video idea.[135] The original deadline for the competition was to be on July 10; however, due to the worldwide success of Volta, Björk had to perform more international promotion work than her label One Little Indian had originally planned, meaning that the previously-planned video shoot for "Declare Independence" in London could not take place. The decision was subsequently made to move the deadline for the contest forward by a month to June 10 in order to release the track "Innocence" (then slated as the third single from the album) around the same period that "Declare Independence" would have been originally released. The decision was met with mixed reactions by fans as many were subsequently unable to submit their ideas due to the new deadline.[136][137] The shooting for the video of "Declare Independence" (originally announced as the album's second single) was rescheduled to August.[138] Many of the videos entered into the competition can be viewed on the YouTube video sharing website.

On July 27, 2007 bjork.com announced that the winner of the video contest was to be decided via an online poll (reminiscent of the online poll used to decide on the tracklisting for the Greatest Hits album) from a shortlist of eleven videos. On August 7, 2007, the winners, a French duo known only as Fred & Annabelle, were chosen.[139]

The military-themed video for "Declare Independence" was directed by French director Michel Gondry. It is his seventh video with Björk, and the first since 1997's "Bachelorette". In a press conference on March 22, 2007, Gondry stated that he would be shooting a video with Björk for an upcoming single, and though he did not specifically state which song it would be for, described his treatment as being for a "punk" song.[140][141] Later confirmation of the video being for "Declare Independence" was made in an article on Monsters and Critics on May 8, 2007.[142] The video shoot was originally going to take place in August 2007 in London (as was the projected single release) but the video shoot was eventually rescheduled to October 11, 2007 in New York City.[80] The finished video was premiered on AOL on 6 December 2007.[78] A making-of was made available on November 29, 2007.[79] The video was premiered exclusively on Channel 4 in the UK on December 13, 2007.[77] The video is also available on the DVD compilation Michel Gondry 2: More Videos (Before and After DVD 1)

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Earth Intruders" (featuring Konono Nº1) Björk, Timbaland, Danja Björk, Timbaland, Danja 6:13/4:39*
2. "Wanderlust"   Björk, Sjón Björk, Mark Bell 5:51/7:25*
3. "The Dull Flame of Desire" (featuring Antony Hegarty) Björk, Fyodor Tyutchev Björk 7:30
4. "Innocence"   Björk, Timbaland, Danja Björk, Timbaland, Danja 4:27
5. "I See Who You Are" (featuring Min Xiao-Fen) Björk, Mark Bell Björk 4:22/4:06*
6. "Vertebræ by Vertebræ"   Björk Björk, Damian Taylor 5:08/5:23*
7. "Pneumonia"   Björk Björk 5:14
8. "Hope" (featuring Toumani Diabaté) Björk, Timbaland Björk 4:02/3:37*
9. "Declare Independence"   Björk, Mark Bell Björk, Mark Bell 4:13/4:40*
10. "My Juvenile" (featuring Antony Hegarty) Björk Björk 4:03
iTunes bonus track version
  1. "Earth Intruders" (Extended Mark "Spike" Stent Mix) – 4:26
  • * On some releases the outros to most of the songs are placed as the intros to others. Only tracks 3, 4, 7 and 10 remain the same on all versions.

Charts & Certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Release information are obtained as follows:[154]

Region Date Distributing Label
Mexico May 1, 2007 Universal Music
Japan May 2, 2007 Polydor, Universal Music Japan
United Kingdom May 7, 2007 One Little Indian
United States May 8, 2007 Elektra, Atlantic, Warner
Canada
Hong Kong Universal Music
Israel May 10, 2007
Taiwan May 15, 2007 Polydor, Universal Music
South Korea May 16, 2007

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External links[edit]