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Coloured vinyl reissue 2LP on One Little Indian. Edition of 5000 copies.
Bjork is back after a three year hiatus with a brand new project. She doesn't do albums anymore... they're projects. This project just happens to be a new album which is released on vinyl CD and IOS app. For the less nerdy of you that's a piece of software for an iDevice (iPhone, iPad) and having tinkered with the ipad app of Biophilia I can confirm it's a lot of fun. A lot of effort has gone into it creating a unique visual and audio experience utilising Apple's hardware. Still we're not selling that so there's no fucking point harping on about it. This is a multimedia exploration of where nature, technology and music meet. Bjork has very kindly decided to take on life, the universe and everything and wrap it up into a ten track album (with three bonus tracks on the deluxe CD version). Musically it's more like Vespertine that Volta. Sure it's got some of the technological splurge you found in Volta but it's a way more coherent record. In some ways it's quite a difficult record though as the songs aren't massively catchy. There's no immediate pop singles on here that I can hear. Crystalline is the closest thing to a catchy pop single on the album. There's deep orchestral moments, plenty of twinkles, massive choirs, lots of organs as well as Bjork's unique vocals. It's quite soundtracky and listening to this for the first time it sounds like it should belong to a film. It's essentially an experimental album with more downbeat moments than upbeat ones. It's definitely one of the more interesting Bjork albums but if you're after catchy pop hits then I'd look elsewhere.
8/10 Pedro Santos 18th July 2017
Following 2007's tepidly (and unjustly) received Volta, in equal parts bombastic and skeletal, Björk replicated her now customary career move: retreating and pushing her past creations into her own oblivion. Her mindset, likewise, shifted from the primordial values of her artistry—promoting earnest feminism, pleading for independence and celebrating all sorts of human ephemera—to building an innovative music theory system. (Get a girl that can do both!) It's hard to guess which of the Biophilia project materialisations will endure throughout the decades. My bet—and utmost hope—is that the album will someday garner the same (general, not only critical) praise that its application counterpart has. Should it not, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out why: Biophilia is perhaps the most radical installment of Björk's continuously groundbreaking anthology, with a sonority unlike any others' and a passion, an appetite for incrementally bold textures and themes that transpires through most of the disc. (I'm not one for skipping any tracks on an album, but white noise recordings "Dark Matter" and "Hollow" deserve the feat.)
Björk paints with bold strokes in a canvas of daringly unsettling soundscapes. In Biophilia, she oscillates between two crucial hemispheres—frenetic compositions, shuffling beats and confrontational stances ("Crystalline", "Sacrifice") and the placid stylings of album bookends "Moon" and "Solstice". This dichotomy is where the album finds a rare parallel with Volta, balancing ferocity with introspection and finding their most excellent moments in the songs that better combine both. If Volta encountered its apex in the imponent, romantic "The Dull Flame of Desire", at once vulnerable and fearless, Biophilia finds that of its own on "Mutual Core", a song that positions its narrator in two phases: preparation and explosion. However, an explosion in Biophilia's context is not at all indicative of sublime love, but rather the opposite—its dissolution, a theme that makes sense in a disc so based on emotional and intellectual ruptures, yet rarely sounding fragmented.
Being at odds with the status quo didn't do Biophilia any favors in the public eye, but it also led to its greatest features. An avant-garde, megalomaniac suite, Biophilia blends Björk's best idiosyncrasies into an intense and meticulous, yet organic, unique listen.
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