Friday, October 21, 2011

Album Review: Bjork - Biophilia

Bjork is a tough nut to crack, and an even tougher one to describe to someone who's never heard of her. I could talk ad nauseum about her stage presence, her one of a kind fashion sense, her strife filled biography, and even her Academy Award nominated performance in Dancer in the Dark. I could almost have a disertation on my hands before I even got to her music. And despite the glorious, outlandish, and completely unpredictable nature of Bjork as an institution, it's really the music that makes her one of this generations most cherished artists.

Over the years, Bjork's odd brand of pop has seen its highs and lows, but it's never seen even a slight dip in creativity. Each album is different, not only musically, but aesthetically. Listening to her music is such a joy because of this. Never knowing what she may do next may leave one with a feeling of uncertainty, but in the end she never disappoints. Each release is beautiful in its own way, having a personality and character all its own.

On her latest release, Biophilia, Bjork has truly out done herself, not only musically but artistically as well. Biophilia is the type of record that could start a revolution, fusing multiple media outlets into one grandious project. It's incredibly ambitious, as Bjork has not only created a album, but a beast of a different kind.

Biophilia is the world's first "app album." Yes Apple isn't content with just revolutionizing media players, but the media itself. And while releasing a set of apps that correspond with the album may seem gimmicky, it is really executed with brilliance. Each app is radically different, but share an obscenely tight production quality. Their absolutely lovely additions to the project, enough so that you'll be seening plenty of replications in the upcoming years. While some may see them as fun distractions, many will find them to be excellent ways to get even more absorbed into a phenomonal album.

Oh yes, that's right, Biophilia is an actual album. In all the hype that's surrounded its production and revolutionary release, it's easy to forget that this is a pop album by one of the world's most beloved artists. Bjork's gone all out here, creating her own instruments and unconventional methods in which to use them. From the interesting harp hybrid, to the Tesla Coil, Bjork as made it so that Biophilia is like nothing you have ever heard, or will ever hear again.

But we're still venturing away from the music itself. It's strange and unconventional visual counterpart may threaten to detract form the music, but rest assured, Bjork is at the top of her game here, offering up some of the best material of her storied career. Simply, Biophilia is a stunning, marvelous work of art that challenges, entices, and leaves you completely buffudled. Its profundities and excentricities make for one unbelievable and immense listen. From the get go, "Moon" grabs the listener with its simple yet effective harp melody, subtly making way for Bjork's lovely vocals. It's songs like this that hearken back to her devise Medulla, as her voice is really the de facto instrument. "Mutual Core," however, delves into her more electronica aesthetic, drawing inspiration from the beat-laden Volta, and the groundbreaking Homogenic. This is where Biophilla really excels, in its ability to draw from literally every facet of Bjork's musical psyche, creating a diverse and immaculately presented record.

Despite how well done everything is here, it must be said that Biophilia is in no way a perfect album. "Hollow" and "Dark Matter" come to mind. They are necessary songs; dark, atmospheric, and different from the rest, but being placed back to back they make the middle of the record drag. Also, the songs are surprisingly formulaic. Nearly every track starts off with an instrumental introduction to showcase whatever bizarre creation Bjork concocted, which segues into her vocals. Then, a lively ending typically finishes it off. This really doesn't detract too much from the overall presentation, but it should be noted as at times it almost feels copy/pasted.

It's difficult to call Biophilia's little faults anything more than blemishes in light of everything else it does so right. This album will enchant and mezmerize. More importantly, it's yet another incredibly excecuted piece of music that will show the world why Bjork deserves all the hyperbolic claim she recieves.


1. Moon
2. Thunderbolt
3. Crystalline
4. Cosmogony
5. Dark Matter
6. Hollow
7. Virus
8. Sacrifice
9. Mutual Core
10. Solstice

Rating: A-

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