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Björk: Biophilia

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  • Alternative & IndieDance & Electronica...
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reviewed by
Haisam Awad
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Björk: Biophilia

Delirium has surrounded the release of almost
every one of Björk’s seven albums. The Icelandic singer’s eighth is no
different. Never one to do things without fuss, Björk released Biophilia as the first ‘app album’ with the
help of Apple. Each song can be downloaded as an interactive app that features a
game, the score of the song, a musical essay and a specialised interactive
exploration of the subject of the song. Yeah, we don’t really understand it
either. It sounds interesting, but there’s music that needs to be listened to.

The first track on Biophilia is ‘Moon’, which brings together Björk’s trembled voice
with only a sweet harp melody. It’s followed by ‘Thunderbolt’, whose
high-accented electronic base notes complement synthesised organ sounds, as
‘craving miracles’ is repeated throughout as a two-word chorus.

Rolling vocals give ‘Crystalline’ depth as
xylophonic melodies introduce light beats that in the last 45 seconds switch to
a drum and bass beat absent of vocals.

‘Cosmonogy’ opens with ‘Heaven, heaven’s
bodies/ Swirl around me/ Make me wonder’. The lines become the chorus of
a sombre but warm song that is as understatedly mystical as its lyrics.

It’s followed by the spooky ‘Dark Matter’,
which is driven by long single organ keys. ‘Hollow’ builds like a piece of
music from a stage performance, and feels like it’s based on movements depicted
through separate singular notes.

The light patter of steel drums and
xylophones soften the deep bass beats of ‘Virus’, and like ‘Cosmonogy’, it’s a
much softer song than most. It’s an ode to Björk’s abstract romanticism; viruses,
mushrooms and gunpowder needing a host or trigger to fulfil their potential is
all equated to love.

A rusty panpipe melody carries ‘Sacrifice’,
which sweeps into another drum and bass beat that is sped up to a blunt dull.
‘Mutual Core’ is another menacing song that bombards you with a barrage of

The album ends with ‘Soltice’; an intricately
soft but powerful conclusion. Björk leaves with the lines ‘Flickering
sun-flame/Unpolished earth in the palm of hand’. It sums up all ten songs
perfectly beyond its imagery; it could mean everything or nothing.

Biophilia’s dichotomy within every song is absorbing,
but it also treads over the line of being difficult to listen to. Every track,
on the most part, is simple and stripped down, and so when you’re blindsided by
a drum and bass beat, it takes you out of the explorative world of the song.
Björk’s exploration of biological life through music is all very interesting nonetheless.

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