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Björk’s Cornucopia

The Shed, New York, NY — I so love the mere fact of an artist as singular as Björk that I often forget how little of her music actually grabs me. I’m a huge fan of her masterful millennial output, 1997’s Homogenic and 2001’s Vespertine, but given how much else she’s done that doesn’t move me like those records do, it’s probably not fair to call myself a big fan of Björk herself. Cornucopia, advertised as her “most elaborate staged concert to date,” seemed like a great chance to transcend my dissatisfaction with her later work and connect with her broader essence, and scoring tickets was enough of a coup to triple my excitement about the show. The show itself did not disappoint, though it didn’t quite transcend, either.

Unsurprisingly, it was a visual feast. Femininity and nature were clearly (if not plainly) the themes, expressed through pulsing images of mutant flora and abstract curvature (often emanating from a CGI version of Björk herself), whose fluid organicism comfortably coexisted with its obviously digital origins. As music visualizations of this sort inevitably do, it sometimes evoked the gentrified realm of screen saver art, but even those moments were enhanced by the multi-layered projection, appearing both in front of the stage (on a translucent screen made of strands) and behind it.

At the macro level, it was frequently stunning. At the micro level, I wish I could have made out the details of the costumes better from the back of the room. Overall, like much of what Björk does, it resonated with me more aesthetically than thematically.

Musically, the performance variously employed the roughly 50-piece Hamrahlíð Choir, a harpist, a septet of flutists, a percussionist, and a synthesizer/sampler/etc guy to handle whatever else was needed. Almost everyone was imported from Iceland. The set list unsurprisingly favored Björk’s most recent record, Utopia, which even a production of this scope unfortunately couldn’t make exciting for me. Oh well.

Even if it didn’t live up to my frankly unreasonable expectations, it was a memorable show, and I’m glad to have finally checked Björk off my live music wish list.