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Biophilia is an interdisciplinary exploration of the universe and its physical forces - particularly those where music, nature, and technology meet - inspired by these relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena, from the atomic to the cosmic. The Independent on Sunday calls it "brilliantly original and ambitious . This version of the album is housed in a six-panel cardboard package.
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.
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I saw Bjork at Alexandra Palance on September 2013 - the last concert of the Biophilia tour - it was a magic show transposing a great album live. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Giuliano Gasparini
All of Bjork's albums are well worth buying, this is so compelling to listen to and I love the cover too.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Nothing more I can add as regards the quality of the music, this has all been well covered by others. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Murasaki