The Voice of Future Past

*** BJORK, "Post"; Elektra

The book on Bjork gets no great revision with her second solo album. The sprite from Iceland is still a precious, sometimes pretentious performer who too often relies on the easy, disarming gesture.

But the former Sugarcubes singer commands a musical imagination capable of transcending that self-consciousness, and it has never been more potent than on "Post," an often heady mix of trendiness and nostalgia.

English dancemeister Nellee Hooper provides tracks with aggressive techno textures, full of grinding beats and colorful blips and swirls. Bjork enlists Tricky for some more ambient, abstract atmospherics.

But this is a digital kid with an analog dream. The string orchestra that accompanies her on "You've Been Flirting Again" is captured with old-fashioned warmth, and Bjork even has a go at a '40s big-band number originally recorded by Betty Hutton.

These organic and electronic elements blend in shifting proportions throughout "Post," sometimes lying back and leaving her laser-beam voice as the focus, sometimes capturing the propulsion, humor and vividness of old cartoon music.

Bjork may sing of solitude and favor moods of melancholy, but the feeling that ultimately emerges from the musical freedom on "Post" is one of quiet ecstasy over the purity of music.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (e x cellent).

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