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BIOPHILIA (PL)


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Music

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Biography

Björk's seventh full-length album Biophilia, a multi-media project pairing 10 songs with corresponding iPad Apps, is her most conceptually complex. Track titles read like captions in a textbook -- "Moon," "Thunderbolt," "Virus," the first single "Crystalline" -- but each piece is filtered through Björk's personal connection to, and ... Read more in Amazon's Björk Store

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BIOPHILIA (PL) + Vespertine + Medulla
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Oct 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CD
  • ASIN: B008Y8Z76W
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Product Description

CD Description

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

BBC Review

Ever the inventive artist, for her eighth studio long-player Björk also turned inventor, commissioning the construction of specialist instruments to compose these 10 tracks upon. Among them, the gameleste - a fusion of gamelan and celeste - which can be heard, a persistent twinkle in the mix, across this set's lead single, Crystalline. The Icelander also turned to rather more modern hardware for this album - certain tracks are partly recorded on an iPad, and the intention is for each of these tracks to emerge as an app, as well as via traditional album formats.

Impressively 21st century stuff, for sure. But while her commitment to composition away from typical means - she doesn't play piano or guitar, so seeking new options is both a necessity and a novelty - is commendable, experimentation is nothing without accessibility, especially for a musician with an audience as sizeable as Björk's. Thankfully, Biophilia serves as wonderfully as a 'standard' album as anything else - a plus, given that interest in her app series is, one imagines, slightly on the wane (it certainly is in this writer's household). Conceptual in the sense that each song is associated with a readily presented theme - typically of either an earthbound or extraterrestrial nature, from lunar cycles (opener Moon) to tectonic plates beneath our feet (Mutual Core) - it doesn't overload the listener with powerful ideology. If desired, one can detach from the lyrical message and dive into a most rewardingly singular din - again, Björk has crafted sounds which are entirely hers alone.

Over the years her voice has mellowed - now, rather than fly off the scale to the occasional detriment of the music around it, it's a controlled presence, complementing perfectly the whirrs and clicks, static and choral highs which surround it. And the music flits from the sublime to the strikingly brutal - the aforementioned Mutual Core slips from blissful ambience into bombastic electronic percussion, leaving the senses reeling, only to fade back into a comforting lilt; and Crystalline's jungle-flavoured breakdown come its climax (part-Aphex Twin, part-Reprazent) is one of the best jaw-on-the-floor moments in 2011 pop so far. Closer Solstice is a mellow affair which recalls the sounds of a non-Björk app, namely the relax-into-this puzzler Quell and its Steve Cravis soundtrack. Elsewhere, there are echoes of albums past: Hollow is a dark, menacing relation of the delicate fare that dominated 2001's Vespertine; Cosmogony commands brass into action, bubbling beneath heavenly choral backing vocals; and Thunderbolt initially stirs unlikely thoughts of The Anchor Song, from 1993's Debut, before progressing into something multi-layered and magical.

Focusing on the genesis of Biophilia is an unfortunate inevitability given how much attention has been placed on both its writing process and its newfangled method of distribution. But this is far from a folly, an endeavour designed to flog touch-screen tablets to the singer's fanbase. It's a mesmerising album which confirms that Björk can weave dumfounding wonders from Silly String - whatever's placed before her, she can turn to her advantage, taking her audience on a trip the likes of which no other contemporary artist is capable of planning, let alone embarking on. In a word: amazing. Again.

--Mike Diver

Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window

--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amillionmiles on 18 Oct 2011
Format: Audio CD
It has been four years since Bjork released her last record "Volta" and during this hiatus, she has concentrated on recording her latest offering "Biophilia". There is a significant difference in sound between these two records which is a sign of Bjork's continuous growth as an artist. "Volta" was much more up-tempo and joyful, whereas "Biophilia" is very dark and atmospheric. For me, that makes it that much more interesting as Bjork's most daring releases have always been her best. However, as with most of her albums, it does take quite a few listens to understand and find meaning to the songs and sounds, so a certain amount of patience is required.

The opening track "Moon" is very gentle and subtle yet sombre at the same time, with minimal arrangements, focussing more on Bjork's story telling abilities. "Thunderbolt" is very intriguing and features some very different sounds which make you want to listen over and over again. The mesmerising lead single "Crystalline" is the first track to have a consistent rhythm throughout as well as a heavy bass and a drum and bass section towards the end of the track. "Cosmogony" is a slightly easier track to follow with a distinctive chorus and a simpler melody, but is just as interesting and dynamic. "Dark Matter" is very experimental and sounds very nonsensical which adds to its appeal. "Hollow" has a manic orchestral feel to it and is appealingly chaotic until a more structured rhythm is added towards the end of the track. "Virus" is my favourite song as it has a very subtle but beautiful melody and rhythm, and a sadness that is not only apparent in the music, but also in the lyrics, portraying the devastating effects that viruses can have.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By ThatBoyLuke on 16 Oct 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First of all I'd like to say that Bjork is one of the most amazing artists ever and I have all her albums (except "Debut") but her last album "Volta" was a dissapointment to me. Although there were some amazing songs on it like "I see who you are", "Dull flame of desire" etc the album felt rushed and towards the end i found it to be very dull. When I heard "Biophilia" was going to be released my hopes were raised again by hearing "Virus" which is beautiful and could have come from my favourite album "Vespertine" and the dark and mysterious "Thunderbolt".

When I finally recieved the album there were tracks i was instantly drawn to like "Virus", "thunderbolt", "Cosmogony" and "moon" and there were those like "Dark Matter", "Hollow" and "Mutual Core" that I didnn't know what to think of at first but after a few plays there isn't a song on the album I dislike at all, in fact it's an amazing album in my top 3 Bjork albums actually. I love the creepiness of some of the songs and the dark undertones and the instrumentals are wonderful as is Bjork's voice as usual.

This album is probably not for everyone, for fans that are stuck in the past hoping for annother "Homogenic" and complaining about every album since it's probably not worth buying but for fans or newcommers to Bjork that are open minded and willing to accept the new directions Bjork is going in the album is a must have and well deserving of this 5 star rating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Swiftons on 14 Oct 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bjork is an artist who refuses to conform. Track 2, Thunderbolt, has multiple time signatures, and other songs have unconventional time signatures. She is a rare musical genius with massive ambition and the drive to execute increasingly unique and large-scale projects. She has created her own instruments and sounds, and a unique signature that is her precious vocal. She is an artist who will be studied and appreciated more in the centuries to come than she is now. She is the classical musician's favourite pop star.

I attended the launch concerts of Biophilia at the Manchester International Festival in Summer 2011 where the majority of the attendees, including myself, knew only one song from the very album the concert centred on. I was blown away by the impressive iPad controlled midi instruments, the tesla coil arpeggios and the sheer spectacle of interestingness that is a typical Bjork gig - but this was a whole new level, and I hope I can see it again (in London with any luck).

After many listens and enjoyment of the accompanying iPad app, my conclusion is that Sacrifice is my favourite song from this album. I once had the pleasure of bumping into Bjork in a hot tub in Iceland. Something funny happened and we shared a laugh. As much as I would love to have talked to her, Bjork likes to be left alone. Like a delicate flower it can only be handled so much before it breaks. Sacrifice is all about that theme of space, of letting be, and loving enough to give space, and so its the song that symbolises a theme that Bjork writes about so well and which this album is largely about. Personally I like the space to be left alone to listen to this album!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Dersley on 13 Oct 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I can't equal the musical insights set out by other reviewers but I CAN offer my own view that this is a very fine album by one of the most original talents around in music. Bjork cannot be classified as pop or dance if she ever could be. This music is experimental, boundary-pushing and complex. She introduces rhythms and ideas like no other artist and it's a testament to her worth that the likes of Zeena Parkins collaborate with her on this album. Some of the explorations in the songs are truly remarkable, uniting the movement of tectonic plates with personal emotion (Mutual Core) and DNA to link the individual with generations and species (Hollow). I think Cosmogony and Crystalline are my favourites at present but that might be because I'm familiar with them from the four 12" releases. Like others I don't have access to the apps but I've seen/listened to Crystalline on ipad and it was great. Trust Bjork to integrate the possibilities of a new medium in a thoroughly original and quality way! I agree with the reviewer who says that much of Biophylia isn't catchy: so much the better, I think Bjork has moved way beyond such simple approaches. I'm just thankful that she persists in innovating and exploring, alone amongst her contemporaries. R&B divas, eat your little hearts out!
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