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All things Bjork and beautiful

Published Sep. 12, 2003|Updated Sep. 1, 2005

Is she forever to be known as the lady in the swan dress?

One thing's for sure. Icelandic iconoclast Bjork sure has her own sense of style.

She has her own musical vision, too. And it's challenging, provocative and unique.

This summer, Bjork released a number of DVDs, live albums and arty books, and did a small North American tour. The DVDs include a live concert special, a collection of her scintillating music videos and insider documentaries featuring interviews with famous Bjork fans (among them: Missy Elliott, Elton John and Radiohead's Thom Yorke). With the deluge of all things Bjork, how can the most ardent fans keep up?

Even musical chart-toppers know it's not smart to saturate the market. So why does Bjork, a marginal musical figure, an Icelandic enigma, think she can?

Remember, the woman has chutzpah.

At a recent concert at New York's Coney Island (one of nine shows this summer, all of which sold out within minutes), Bjork delivered an explosive show, mesmerizing for its theatrical bombast and sparks _ literally.

Fireworks exploded over the ocean, crackling above the wooden carnival rides as Bjork's cinematic tunes crescendoed. Bjork, elfin and adorable, commanded a string octet, a harpist and a duo of electronic wizards through a magical hour and 40-minute set.

Still fuzzy on Bjork's appeal?

Her range is astounding. Live, she perfected a silky whisper and remixed older songs into pulse-racing, frenetic techno numbers that had the stadium shaking.

In her music videos, documented on her Greatest Hits _ Volumen 1993-2003 collection, Bjork is playful, sexy and mysterious. Of all the releases, the compilation best characterizes the singer, highlighting songs from all facets of her career. It also scores points for spunky innovation.

The 21-video collection will perplex and amuse. Bjork transforms into a catlike critter in Hunter. The Spike Jonze-directed It's In Our Hands captures Bjork cavorting in the forest, a creature of the night.

And Bjork ruled the night in Coney Island. Surrounded by fans, silent in absolute deference, she debuted a song called Desired Constellation from her next studio album. Against its muted electronic backdrop, lullabylike, Bjork sang, "With a palm full of stars, I shake them like dice, repeatedly, and I throw them on the table."

The lyrics, cryptic and slight, are the key to Bjork's appeal. She holds the elements in her hand, hostage to her whim. Bjork dominates. She soars and takes her fans along.

Bjork's latest

+ Live at the Royal Opera House (One Little Indian): This DVD is a recording of Bjork's 2001 London performance with Matmos, an Inuit choir and a 56-piece orchestra.

+ Greatest Hits _ Volumen 1993-2003 (One Little Indian): DVD collection of 21 Bjork music videos.

+ Volumen Plus (One Little Indian): DVD features seven songs not on Bjork's first Volumen release, in 1999.

+ Vessel (One Little Indian): DVD of Bjork's first filmed live performance, in 1994.

+ Miniscule (One Little Indian): DVD with behind-the-scenes of Bjork's Vespertine tour; scheduled to be released Nov. 4.

+ Inside Bjork (One Little Indian): DVD documentary featuring rare behind-the-scenes looks at Bjork and interviews.

+ Live Box (One Little Indian): Four-disc box set (plus bonus DVD) featuring live versions of Bjork's studio albums.

+ Gling-Glo (One Little Indian): This rerelease finds Bjork, in collaboration with trio Gumundur Ingolfssonar, crooning jazz standards in Icelandic.

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