Sleeps with angels
Many of the observations about the woman known as Bjork--that she is a "pixie," "the girl who fell to earth," "the ice princess," a child in a woman's clothing--are totally surface. They are based upon the obvious observations: She has been captured in photographs as a woman masquerading as a little girl. And she speaks in a high and tiny voice, her words spoken in an English accent buried underneath the guttural Icelandic; the result is almost something less childlike and more than the mutterings of a cartoon character.

But, in truth, Bjork is a very eloquent woman in whichever language she struggles to speak. A conversation with her about her music--itself a twisted, sometimes giddy and sometimes disturbing amalgam of ice-cold techno-rock and red-hot-and-blue big-band swing--reveals Bjork as a woman most comfortable speaking in metaphors; she likes to say she is a private person and so she reveals herself by talking about other things. For instance:

"I would like to compare songwriting to sleeping, really," she says. "Like if something happened to you and you couldn't write a song about it, it's a bit like insom..." Her voice trails off as she struggles with the word. "It's a bit like when you can't sleep? You just stay there. And once you fall asleep, it, especially if you sleep for like eight hours, it's very generous to you. Definitely refreshing."

If Debut--Bjork's 1993 album, actually her third--was the imperfect and "shy" work of which she speaks, the newly released Post is its more mature, moodier counterpart. It is an album dealing in extremes, juxtaposing beautiful and somber moments (a lush cover of an obscure big-band "It's Oh So Quiet" from the 1940s) with loud and harsh ones (the near-industrial "Enjoy"); it's an album on which the happy songs are gleeful and the sad songs are despairing, filled with love songs both manic ("Hyper-Ballad") and obsessive ("I Miss You") with little in between.

"I guess I've always been into extremes," Bjork says. "I like real spicy things, and I like very sweet things, and I just find the middle a bit boring...Aside from the fact I was shy, Debut is a bit like when you go to someone's house for the first time and you just are kind of cheerful and polite, and Post is kind of like when you know that person for a year and I can sort of talk about my problems without feeling guilty."

Bjork performs July 31 at Deep Ellum Live.

--Robert Wilonsky