twentieth-century music

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Hidden Places: Hyper-realism in Björk’s Vespertine and Dancer in the Dark


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grimley d   [Google Scholar] 


Björk’s collaboration with the director Lars von Trier on the film Dancer in the Dark was marked by well-publicized personal and aesthetic differences. Their work nevertheless shares an intense preoccupation with the nature and quality of sound. Björk’s soundtrack systematically explores the boundaries between music and noise, and the title of von Trier’s film itself presupposes a heightened attention to aural detail. This paper proposes a theoretical context for understanding Björk’s music in the light of her work with von Trier. Whereas Björk’s soundtrack responds to the visual and narrative stimuli of von Trier’s film, the use of sound in her album Vespertine thematicizes more familiar Björk subjects: the relationship between music, landscape and the natural world, and Björk’s own (constructed) sense of Nordic musical identity. By placing Vespertine alongside Björk’s music for Dancer in the Dark, the sense of ‘hyperreality’ that defines both also emerges as a primary characteristic of her work.