8.6 / 10
No one has been able to paint the human soul with a voice as consistently and honestly as Björk has for the past twenty years (thirty something if we count her first release as an eleven year old). There is no secret to her formula if there even is one, she has one of the most legendary voices of our generations, is a great composer, and always keeps challenging herself. Her music knows no boundaries, she has messed with electronica, jazz, trip-hop, pop, you name it and you can find elements of it in the veins of her work. Her new album Biophilia is her celebration of life and embrace of the digital era that now dominates the world from the farms to the skyscrapers.
The subtle whispering opening track that is “Moon” is very minimal but does not feel empty at all; her ability to arrange should not be lost on fans. The strong single bass drum hits vibrate like the stomps of elephants in the forest followed by the chirp of the harps that make up the beat. It feels as though only Björk would be in tune enough with nature to make an album whose title literally means the love of life, even going as far as basing the time signatures for her music on the lapses between the time the lightning is seen and the thunder is heard on “Thunderbolt”.
The first single released for the album and one of the best tracks is “Crystalline” that just like she narrates: “Underneath our feet/ Crystals grow like plants” grows before your ears slowly but surely. The harmonium-like arpeggios complimented by the light electronic drums serve as a perfect base for her layered belting full of which of course are filled with metaphors for love. Then when the climax hits and the drum roll gets louder and faster, an explosion the likes I have probably never heard before overtakes you like a rabid wave in the ocean. The ever so tasteful use of intense bass drum patterns and industrial-sounds just give the track that perfect closing almost like an orgasm.
One of her finer talents is her ability to write lyrics too, without it she would not be able to make an infection sound so desirable like in “Virus”. The way she sounds, almost desperate, committed and knowing she is already inside you makes it impossible for you to reject her: “The perfect match/ You and me/ I adapt/ Contagious/ You open up/ Say welcome.”
The feel of the aforementioned “Crystalline” is revisited in what kind of feels like one long track separated into two with “Sacrifice” and “Mutual Core”. They both give off a similar vibe of regret and endangered love. The former is almost like a guide to setting things right in this mess of love they have made, and the latter is a confession of human weakness that tells that even though they both gave it all it still was not enough. The reason they have a similar feel to “Crystalline” is the strong electronic drums and very Trent Reznor-like sound they give off, almost like they are coming from a dirty basement filled with ancient torture devices.
There are always such personal strokes in her music, which is why I mentioned before that her music paints her soul, the way her voice sounds like it almost gives out, but never possibly could. It feels like she is always giving her all on every song, every melody, every measure, every second, and while we may say that we really don’t know her at all from her music it surely feels to me like I know at least a fraction of the person she is from the encyclopedia of poems she has given us. While Biophilia is not and will not be as large as her previous masterpieces, it definitely is a good and solid album, and an important album, people get lost in the transit of their own life but forget where they really are, at the very least this album might accomplish that; to slow down time just for a bit, or at least long enough for us to wake up.
- Mutual Core