Review Summary: Beautifully textured and downright cerebral, "Biophilia" sounds just as refreshing as Bjork's best albums.
The new Bjork album, “Biophilia,” is at the forefront of technology. Before the premiere of the actual disc, the Icelandic pop star has ventured into the state-of-the-art area of music distribution process. “Biophilia” has recently been released as a series of 'apps' from Apple. Due to this invention, fans can listen to songs, explore their origins, become acquainted with their meaning and even remix some of them. This digital presentation results in a fully cognitive experience that helps to explore the music more thoroughly than ever before. The whole idea might feel a bit gimmicky at first, but in case of “Biophilia” the use of 'apps' makes perfect sense because of the album's scientific concept.
What matters most of all is the music itself. Bjork resigns from a full-blown, heavily saturated production of “Volta” in favor of a more organic, almost minimalistic approach. This is wonderfully showcased by the album's opening track, “Moon,” where Bjork's magnetic voice smoothly floats over slight, yet whimsical harp to refreshing effect. Indeed, the vocalist seems revitalized delivering one galvanizing performance after another. “Thunderbolt” uses its specially made digital pipe organ as the new host to Bjork's vocals that this time range from beautifully harmonic to almost suffocating in the song's mechanical mantra: “May I, should I, or have I too often? Craving miracles…”
Bjork pushes the boundaries even further in way more flamboyant tracks. “Dark Matter” perfectly captures the feeling of unexplained danger due to its rather mysterious, bizarre vocalization, while “Hollow” feels like a component of some bio-themed electric opera due to operatic vocals and sparse, avant-garde orchestration. The experimentation, which is omnipresent on “Biophilia,” has always been an indispensable facet of Bjork's compositions. Even the most hook-driven song and unsurprisingly lead single, “Crystalline,” astonishes with its no-holds-barred, drum'n'bass climax, which ranks as one of the most jaw-dropping shifts in current pop music.
The scientific character of the album allows Bjork to flirt with big concepts that are reflected not only in her evocative lyrics being inspired by literature, nature and technology, but also in carefully designed sound. The soothing framework of “Cosmonogy” serves as an excellent platform for the vocalist to tell the story about the beginning of the universe. Unraveling in an unhurried pace, the track doesn't fall short of its grandiose ambitions making for the quality that's both cerebral and timeless. “Virus” feels just as relaxed making an intriguing comparison between the titular virus and the glow of love, whereas “Mutual Core” takes the archeological concept of tectonic plates and turns it into an anthem about the power of unity and sacrifice.
Every single song from “Biophilia” has its distinct vibe employing a wide array of instruments to create its own aura. Nonetheless, the album is entirely cohesive due to Bjork's overpowering, yet fragile presence. There's no other popular artist who could pull off such an ambitious cosmological concept so well. Bjork just makes the best of it boldly incorporating her style into every segment of this beautifully textured album. Her uniqueness once again remains unmatched.