Exposé Online banner

Björk — Biophilia
(Nonesuch 528728-2, 2011, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2013-04-01

Biophilia Cover art

Sometimes it feels strange to be reviewing an artist like Björk, who is well known enough worldwide to attract attention from the mainstream press and even paparazzi (swan dress, anyone?). After all, Exposé is all about "the music the mainstream refuses to notice." Well, in the case of Björk, we make an exception, because she is so freaking weird. I am continually amazed that an artist who has so steadfastly made non-commercial music for twenty years can still generate as much attention as she does. (Kate Bush is in a similar situation, though her music isn't as strange as Björk's.) Biophilia continues Björk's artistic journey away from conventional pop music, though it's not her most experimental release ever. Still, she pushes the boundaries of technology, exploring new ways of composing and recording. All of which would be pointless if the result was drivel. In my view, she's yet to sink to that level (not even close), and Biophilia is no exception. First off, her voice is just so engaging that it will tend to draw you in no matter what the setting. Starting things off on a relatively quiet note is "Moon," which consists of Björk's overdubbed vocals backed by nothing more than a harp. Things pick up a bit for "Thunderbolt," adding what sounds like a church organ, a synthesizer, and (a couple minutes in) some electronic percussion sounds. Much has been made of the biological and astronomical themes behind the songs, but that's pretty unobtrusive unless you're inclined to read the lyrics. Towards the very end of the third track, we finally hear a frenetic electronic rhythm part, briefly reminding us of the energy lying under the surface. Pipe organs butt heads with odd digital sounds of undetermined origin and tinkly bell tones. Tempos ebb and flow, rarely settling into a steady beat for more than a chorus at a time. When, on track 9, a heavily distorted electronic percussion part makes its entrance, we are jarred into another reality for a moment, then the quiet organ tones are back for the next verse. It's all more than a bit insane, but works splendidly to carry us into the singer's idiosyncratic universe.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 40, 2011 releases

Related artist(s): Björk, Zeena Parkins

More info
http://www.bjork.com

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Negative Trip - Parasite Psychotic – Crashing beats, distorted sounds, sampled voices: this band from the town of Wädenswil, near Zürich, is definitely plying the decades-old genre of industrial electronic music. But they have the good...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues