Equal parts organic, orchestral and extraterrestrial; Volta blends found sounds, string sections and synths in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The album is less abstract than much of Bjork’s recent work, with ships horns, running water and marching feet tying these tracks to the real world.
This return to reality makes for an accessible album – one that has, oddly enough, its fair share of dancefloor moments. The influence of uber-producer Timbaland is strong, but Bjork is suitably confident in her own sound to ensure his production does not overshadow the album. She picks and mixes elements from the Timbaland repertoire; eastern strings and rhythms are vaguely reminiscent of Missy Elliot and others.
Rhythm, in its presence and its absence, is Volta’s strongest feature. ‘Earth Intruders’ and ‘Innocence’ had me tapping my toes (the Timbaland trademark is strongest here). Contrast this with a track like ‘Vertebrae by Vertebrae’ where Bjork is at her experimental best, floating somewhere beyond the realms of musical theory. The album is certainly not without its eccentricities.
Volta is accessible in theme as well as sound. The global, pseudo-activist nature of tracks like ‘Declare Independence’ show that Bjork has turned her eye to the rest of the world, and she does not like what she sees. Conceptually, Volta reminds me of Thom Yorke’s The Eraser – both artists expressing opinion as much as emotion.
The ease with which this review flowed onto the page is testament to the depth of this album. Volta draws you in, starts you thinking and does not let you stop. I will be listening for some time to come.