Björk

You’ve heard “Crystalline,” “Cosmogony“, and those Matthew Herbert remixes, but maybe it’s “Virus” that will convince you to spring for the $812 edition of Biophilia. Maybe!


How’d it go?

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Comments (12)
  1. Sounds like Bjork, but not the best Bjork.

  2. Pretty song but not $812 worthy by a long shot. . . .

  3. I’ll preface this by saying I love Bjork- I think she’s brilliant and I’m glad that there is someone like her in the pop spectrum that is fearlessly experimenting on the fringes of what music can sound like and how it can be made.

    That said, I think she went off the deep end with Medulla, and she’s likely never coming back. She’s put the experiment, and her processes of musical exploration, in the forefront of what she’s doing, rather than trying to make a great end result. Medulla’s concept was admirable, but the album itself was very hit-or-miss (mostly miss), and largely pretty ugly sounding. (Although I still think Desired Constellation is one of her best songs.)

    I found Volta to be an even bigger disappointment, mostly because it was marketed as this big, colorful, upbeat return to form (which it wasn’t), and the Earth Intruders as just a gigantic red herring. Aside from Earth Intruders and Innocent, Volta was largely a meandering slog, with a sonic palette that did not sound cohesive, and certainly did not support her incredible voice. I just don’t think Bjork’s voice sounds good when supported by brass- it sounds much better with strings. Her songwriting has suffered recently as well- her vocal lines have become so stretched, there’s no hook anymore, and her lyrics have become too conceptual and obtuse to illicit any emotional response.

    I’m finding these issues evident in the Biophilia songs as well- strange juxtapositions of sonic timbres, aimless melodies, un-engaging lyrics. Every new Bjork album comes with a press release touting the new experiments and the avant-garde elements; “This time Bjork enlisted a choir of pygmy throat singers and built a piano made of spoons!” Awesome, Bjork…. no really, you’re amazing, please never change. But while you’re doing all of this experimenting and exploring, try to keep in mind how the end result is going to sound. Just because you can make music from literally any object, doesn’t mean its going to be worth listening to. Try to let the song dictate the process, not the other way around.

    (It killed my soul a bit to say that, but the fact is, there was a time when I used to go to the record store for the midnight release of a new Bjork album, and now I’m not even excited for Biophilia. :-/ )

    • OK, there is no way this album is going to be good. The guy above me is totally right — Bjork has just become increasingly interested in music-as-process and a sort of meandering vocal improvisation, while seemingly totally neglecting song structure and melody. But, if there’s anyone who’ s earned the right to do whatever the fuck she wants, it’s she — but, still, it would be nice to be able to look forward to an upcoming Bjork release. (oh and I liked Medulla — but Volta was impossible to listen to and this seems to be in that vein).

    • you nailed it with this summary. It’s exactly how I’m feeling. I used to buy all her “CD SINGLES” with extra b sides and remixes, now I’m not even bothered to listen to each track as their released, I’ve heard this one, and Crystalline, which are sonic-ly ‘cool’ but not particularly catchy or emotional. I haven’t heard the third song she’s released yet. Will just wait for album to come out….

      Sad. Wish I was excited, but i’m not

      • Yeah, good point. There used to be something really intimate and personally revealing about her music – but it doesn’t feel that way anymore. It’s like she’s taken herself out of her music.

    • Agreed. I imagine the David Attenborough intro will prove to be the best track on the album.

    • I do agree with everything Orbital said EXCEPT that this new album sounds amazing to me so far.
      For me these 3 songs are a return to the Vesperine era which is my favorite album by her, it’s very mellow with laid back beats and textures.

    • i love medulla. “ugly sounding” seems like a poor word choice, especially with someone like bjork. parts of it obviously aren’t supposed to be pleasant (if the “where is line?” video is anything to go by) and I think the parts that are meant to be let’s say brighter perhaps (“oceania” “who is it?” “triumph of a heart”) sound really good. i didn’t get into volta either, but if we really all just find her experimenting just really great and admirable and keep on keepin on you’re gonna get some off-putting results. that’s kind of the nature of experimenting.

      also i know she likes john cage and telling a john cage fan “some sounds are worth more than other sounds” is absolute heresy.

  4. I love Björk, etc.
    Just let me add that there’s absolutely nothing avant-garde about her music. Today avant-garde is just a brand name for popular music that just ever so slightly pushes the boundaries of popular music, i.e. not pushing any musical boundary. After all the sonic experimentation of people that were old when our grandparents were young, of people who actually pushed music’s limits, calling Björk’s music avant-garde is just too much. How is completely tonal music considered avant-garde?
    Even the tamest composers of the 20th century (minus Philip Glass and other “selected group” of composers) sound extremely risky and fierce put beside of what passes today for avant-garde in pop culture.
    This is not a belittling of popular music; I’m not falling in that academical, formalist trap. What bothers me is that -and maybe that’s just my impression- it seems that some people (artists and journalists included) use this supposed avant-garde as a branding device, a quality grading, a way of saying “oh we’re so ahead of everyone” when as a matter of fact their music is as common as anyone’s (which is not necessarily bad). Without knowing they’re repeating the same mistakes older generations made: innovation for innovation’s sake. Ironically this makes them derriere-garde… the product of ideology.

    Anyway, one of the great things about Björk is her ability to utilize some of the tools previously explored by avant-garde musicians and implementing them in less alienating manners that a lot of people will be able to relate to. No easy feat.

  5. This is actually the song that got me most interested in the record. Its just a striped down piece of art which illuminates some faint idea or blind spot. In my first listen I was shocked at the highly visual description from the perspective of the virus and further shocked at the degree I was actually sympathizing with the virus from then on. Something about taking some simple everyday idea like a virus and turning the perspective, we all have that they are bad, on its head seemed like a dose of magic realism.

  6. I really like the song !! and I think biophilia will be a great record, with or without the apps…

    for me medulla is one of her best works…björk was never avant-garde, she makes intelligent pop-music and on medulla were great songs (even radio-friendly stuff, which seems to be important for people here)

    volta was also great. only the media and advertising did it a bit wrong: “back to her uptempo-roots, etc.” was a mislead.ok, earth intruders and innocence were pretty up-tempo, but vespertine was her only album with no faster songs…

    every fan has a different taste…but it seems to me that there are fans who almost have this self-fulfilling prophecy after medulla, that she’s became to arty/avant-gardeish (what ever this means) without giving the songs a change.

    dull flame of desire, pneumonia, wanderlust, I see who you are were ….for example are great and “typical” björk songs with great song-patterns and lyrics witch are (for me) on one level with the vespertine and homogenic songs..

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