|BJORK - BIOGRAPHY||
Exploring the experimental possibilities inherent in acid and ambience, the two major influences on home-listening techno during the late '80s, Richard D. James' recordings as Aphex Twin brought him more critical praise than any other electronic artist during the 1990s. Though his first major single "Didgeridoo" was a piece of acid thrash designed to tire dancers during his DJ sets, ambient stylists and critics later took him under their wing for Selected Ambient Works 85-92, a sublime touchstone in the field of ambient-techno. James' reaction to the exposure portrayed an artist unwilling to become either pigeonholed or categorizable. His second Aphex Twin album, Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, was so minimal as to be barely conscious -- in what appeared to be an elaborate joke on the electronic community. Follow-ups showed James gradually returning to his hardcore and acid roots, even while his stated desire to crash the British Top Ten (and perform on Top of the Pops) resulted in a series of cartoonish pop songs whose twisted genius was near-masked by their many absurdities. His iconoclastic behavior surprisingly aligned with MTV audiences turned on to end-of-the-millennium nihilist-pop along the lines of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.Björk first came to prominence as one of the lead vocalists of the avant-pop Icelandic sextet the Sugarcubes, but when she launched a solo career after the group's 1992 demise, she quickly eclipsed her old band's popularity. Instead of following in the Sugarcubes' arty guitar-rock pretentions, Björk immersed herself in dance and club culture, working with many of the biggest names in the genre, including Nellee Hooper, Underworld and Tricky. Debut, her first solo effort (except for an Icelandic-only smash released when she was just eleven years old) not only established her new artistic direction, but it became an international hit, making her one of the '90s most unlikely stars.
Though the title of Debut implied that it was Björk's first-ever solo project, she had actually been a professional vocalist since she was a child. When she was in elementary school in Reykjavik, she studied classical piano and, eventually, her teachers submitted a tape of her singing Tina Charles' "I Love to Love" to Iceland's Radio One. After "I Love to Love" was aired, a record label called Falkkin offered Björk a record contract. At the age of 11, her eponymous first album was released; the record contained covers of several pop songs, including the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill," and boasted artwork from her mother and guitar work from her stepfather. Björk became a hit within Iceland and was not released in any other country.
Björk's musical tastes were changed by the punk revolution of the late '70s -- in 1979, she formed a post-punk group called Exodus and in the following year, she sang in Jam 80. In 1981, Björk and Exodus bassist Jakob Magnusson formed Tappi Tikarrass, which released an EP, Bitid Fast I Vitid, on Spor later that year; it was followed by the full-length Miranda in 1983. Following Tappi Takarrass, she formed the goth-tinged post-punk group KUKL with Einar Orn Benediktsson. KUKL released two albums, The Eye (1984) and Holidays in Europe (1986), on Crass Records before the band metamorphisized into the Sugarcubes in the summer of 1986.
The Sugarcubes became one of the rare Icelandic bands to break out of their native country when their debut album, Life's Too Good, became a British and American hit in 1988. For the next four years, the group maintained a successful cult following in the UK and the US, while they were stars within Iceland. During 1990, Björk recorded a set of jazz standards and originals with an Icelandic be-bop group called Trio Gudmundar Ingolfssonar. The album, Gling-Glo, was released only in Iceland. By 1992, tensions between Björk and Einar had grown substantially, which resulted in the band splitting apart.
Following the breakup of the group, Björk moved to London, where she began pursuing a dance-oriented solo career. The previous year, she had sung on 808 State's "Ooops," which sparked her interest in club and house music. Björk struck up a working relationship with Nellee Hooper, a producer who had formerly worked with Soul II Soul and Massive Attack. The first result of their partnership was "Human Behaviour," which was released in June of 1993. "Human Behaviour" became a Top 40 hit in the UK, setting the stage for the surprising number three debut of the full-length album, Debut. Throughout 1993, Björk had hit UK singles -- including "Venus as a Boy," "Big Time Sensuality," and the non-LP "Play Dead," a collaboration with David Arnold taken from the film Young Americans -- as well as modern rock radio hits in the US and in both countries, she earned rave reviews. At the end of the year, NME named Debut the album of the year, while she won International Female Solo Artist and Newcomer at the BRIT Awards; Debut went gold in the US, and platinum in the UK.
During 1994, Björk was relatively quiet, as she recorded her second album with Nellee Hooper, Tricky, 808 State's Graham Massey and Howie B. of Mo' Wax Records; she also released a remix EP, co-wrote the title track for Madonna's Bedtime Stories and performed on MTV Unplugged that same year. "Army of Me," the first single from Björk's forthcoming album, was released as a teaser single in the spring of 1995; it debuted at number 10 in the UK and became a moderate alternative rock hit in the US. Post, her second album, was released in June of 1995 to positive reviews; it peaked at number two in the UK and number 32 in the US. Post matched its predecessor in terms of sales and praise, going gold in the US and helping her earn her second BRIT Award for Best International Female Artist. Post yielded the British hit singles "Isobel" (#23), "It's Oh So Quiet" (#4), and "Hyperballad" (#8), yet her singles failed to make much headway on American radio or MTV. Late in 1996, Björk released Telegram, an album comprised of radical remixes of the entire Post album; Telegram was released in America in January of 1997. Homogenic, her most experimental studio effort to date, followed later that same year.