Culminating in a special release for Record Store Day and a digital debut on 19 April, Vitamin String Quartet (known for 20 years worth of classical covers of popular songs) pays homage to Björk with a full-length offering entitled Vitamin String Quartet Performs Björk. The 13-track release spans Björk‘s discography—with obvious fan favorites from her first few albums as well as songs from more recent releases.
“She seems so fearless in everything she does, so her music follows suit. There’s so much there to chew on, whether it’s subdued, sublime, or outright confrontational. It presents opportunities to play with rock/pop, downtempo, electronic, classical, avant-garde, and more,” James Curtiss, the Quartet’s creative director, says. “So few artists are willing to run through so many idioms, giving you the chance to do the same. It’s dynamic and that is always the best place to be playing and creating from.”
Curtiss explains the process from inspiration to final recording. “Everything starts with a track list,” he says. “You have to look at an expansive catalog for most artists that we’d want to turn into string arrangements and recordings. With Björk, that’s a pretty varied selection of material. You pull it all in and start to look at what it is you want to cover with the repertoire. Hits, personal favorites, things that seem like they’ll work on strings, things you want to challenge yourselves to make work on strings; there are so many reasons you wind up with the dozen or so tracks that comprise a full-length. It’s a 13-song collection of string quartet recordings, with arrangements based on tracks that cover the history of Bjork as an artist, to date.”
He explains, of the group’s song selections, “There’s something for every Björk fan, but there’s so much as a string album to highlight. It’s really quite lovely, dense but not impenetrable. Plus, it’s all done live, in-studio, with just four players. No wild overdubs, layers or artificial or affected strings. Just a string quartet and some incredible arrangements of Björk’s best music.”
Though Björk isn’t involved, the group certainly wants to do the artist and her work justice. That meant giving Performs Björk the proper visual accompaniments. To do so, the group tapped various directors for the five-part project.
CH is debuting “Wanderlust,” originally from Björk’s 2008 album Volta. This newly arranged version is cinematic and, when listened to atop the Velvet Spectrum-directed visual, almost fleeting and certainly captivating. The experience is akin to slipping down an endless, careening slide. Colors transform into shapes and shapes melt back into spiraling patterns. At times, you’re guided by a marble-like center point and when it vanishes, you’re left to decipher the scene that’s unfolding.
Choice says of the collaboration’s roots, “Framing the project as a true creative collaboration between myself and VSQ was a chance to create something epic.”
As for the video itself, Choice says, “I chose to interpret the idea of ‘Wanderlust’ as a curiosity and willingness to explore the unknown. With this in mind, I wanted to communicate the inherent desire to constantly move forward through an unpredictable journey. Creating abstracted forms and movements inspired by the flow of the musical composition as well as the lines and curves of the musical instruments, helped to build out these unknown realities.”
Images courtesy of Shorefire