Björk, after 2007′s somewhat hybrid-like album, Volta – taking a soupçon from her pop albums such as Debut and combining them with certain elements of her more ‘experimental’ work, such as 2001 masterstroke Vespertine – has taken yet another turn, introspectively, with eighth studio album Biophilia.
The world’s first “app album”, it was never going to be considered conventional in any sense. Partly composed on a tablet computer, Björk used various special instruments – such as a Tesla coil and a collection of pendulums that transmitted the earth’s movements to a harp…as you do.
Nevertheless, as with her previous work, there will always be a wealth of beautiful moments amongst all strange and intricate instrumentations. The most apparent on the first listen is within the inherently wistful and playful ‘Cosmogony’, which emits an array of vocal undulations that wash over you like the way the stars would as they pass by (I suppose that was the emotion she was trying to portray).
Other highlights include the deliberately understated ‘Moon’ and the disturbingly sexy ‘Virus’, which is probably not supposed to sound sexy at all, but I don’t think it would be out of place on Vespertine – the sexiest of all her albums.
Lead single ‘Crystalline’ could be considered a “Björk-by-numbers” kind of a song, with it’s plinking beat and catchy chorus, but when the last 45 seconds kicks in you’re presented with a masterly breakdown that turns your mind upside down – in a good way, of course.
To me, the album contains no sore thumb. There is nowhere that could be considered particularly weak. If you’re not a fan of the trademark “gibberish” that she puts into her songs, you might want to give ‘Dark Matter’ a miss because that’s basically all it is. That’s not to say that it isn’t a good song, but you probably wouldn’t want to make someone who has never heard of the Icelander listen to it. It wouldn’t win their heart.
Björk, possibly the most intelligent and profound songwriter in the world, can sometimes be dismissed as a bit of a ‘mad as a box of coconuts on race day’ kind of a girl. But if you do that, you miss out on some contorted crystals of brilliance.