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Monday, July 16, 2012

"Army of Me"

Bjork - "Army of Me" (1995)

A song that has been chopped, remixed, appropriated for soundtracks, and dissected by too many people to count.

Short history, Bjork was the lead singer for the Sugarcubes, which we've already discussed earlier on this blog. After the band broke up, she wrote and recorded a debut album, and this was one of the first tracks she did, but she ultimately decided that its dark and aggressive tone were not right for the album. So even though she recorded it in 1992, it didn't actually see the light of day until April 21st 1995 as the first single for her sophomore album Post.

The song is not a call to arms by the singer, as many presume. It is actually a "get over yourself" or "get off your self imposed downward spiral" to the listener. In particular it was written for her brother, but the message is universal. Stand up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, your self destructive behavior is hurting yourself and others, so quit it.

The song is just as aggressive, using heavily distorted bass prominent synthesizer tracks for the majority of the songs melody. There are also recordings of actual explosions used in the mix. The drum track is said to be a loop of the first part of the drum track to Led Zeppelin's "When the Levy Breaks". The original single release contained 4 different remixes of the song. A charity album was released in 2006 with twenty tracks, each one a remix or cover of the song. In addition, Alternative Metal band Helmet recoded a cover of the song for a different charity album. All of the various covers and remixes that I have heard add layers of electronic noise or harsh electronic guitar chords in an attempt to make the song harder and edgier. As far as I'm concerned, the almost sparse by comparison original is chilling enough.

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