Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sugarcubes - The DVD

Before Bjork conquered the music world as an eccentric solo artist, she fronted the even more eccentric Icelandic band The Sugarcubes. Although the band only survived for three proper studio albums, their music video output was substantial enough to warrant the new collection imaginatively named Sugarcubes – The DVD.

It’s clear that the band had virtually no budget for the videos, making do with sketchy camera work and grainy, unfocused images, but the clips are still mostly entertaining in spite of their technical shortcomings. The 12 videos collected here are a hodgepodge of performance footage and experimental art, and while they are largely unremarkable, they’re still interesting for the glimpses of a young Bjork as well as the odd scenarios she finds herself in during some of the more “artistic” videos.

While Bjork was a key component of the band, she was not the leader and was actually overshadowed at times by the bizarre co-vocalist named Einar who tended to spend much of his recording time speaking gibberish instead of singing actual lyrics. Luckily, Bjork was the featured attraction on most of the band’s singles, but there’s still enough Einar weirdness included in the videos to get a good flavor of the band’s power structure and ultimate short-term lifespan. It’s not every day you get to see a rock star in a lobster costume (Einar in Regina), and that’s probably all for the best.

As for Bjork, she does little to embarrass herself in even their most avant-garde clips, although her fashion is a bit questionable at times. She’s the delightful pixie she has always been in her solo career, just younger and not in charge of the proceedings. Fans accustomed to the video mastery exhibited by her groundbreaking solo videos might be taken aback by these rough, amateur efforts, but it’s still fascinating to see her early work and realize that she’s really not all that weird after all in comparison to her former band.


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