REVIEW: Bjork – “Biophilia”

Bjork / Biophilia / Polydor

There’s surprisingly little going on for most of Bjork’s Biophilia apart from the mysterious Icelandic singer’s voice and some very sparse twinkling instrumentation. This is a theme repeated again and again in the first several tracks on the album, but it’s most evident on the spooky “Hollow”, which seems more like the score to some creepy cartoon than a piece of music that was meant to stand on its own. Of course, the record wasn’t really intended to stand on its own; it’s been dubbed an “app-album” and iPad users will be able to explore a number of visually interactive applications revolving around each song which, knowing the creativity of Bjork and the collaborators involved, are probably very interesting pieces of art in their own right.

Some pretty badass rhythms of both the industrial and dub step variety turn up for scant moments in tracks like “Sacrifice”, “Crystalline” and “Mutual Core” but they’re gone again before you know it. In their place, some very heady lyrics typical of the Nordic enigma (“Unpolished pearl / In sky-black / Palm of hand / Flickering sun-flame”) with not but glockenspiel to accompany them. Just as rare as drum tracks on Biophilia are moments of really dynamic singing; slower and subdued seem to be the form that dominates throughout, with the vocal gymnastics on “Mutual Core” being the exception that proves the rule. Tracks “Moon” and especially “Cosmogony” work as opaque sort-of folk songs that manage to be entrancing despite having only the faintest foggy apparition of a beat, but they are the high points on this minimalist foray into virtual reality.

Download: “Mutual Core”, “Cosmogony”

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