Bjork – Biophilia


Fucking garbage, this one. Bjork’s typical histrionic/no-emotion/no-melody bullshit reaches its nadir – she’s a sledgehammer here with no purpose – over rather simple instrumentation on songs that average 5 minutes in length that often flatline. Am I the only one who thinks pop music should have melodies? Am I the only one who thinks that art pop should be more than eclecticism for eclecticism’s sake? Oh look, she’s doing the same song over and over but with different instruments! A harp! A synth! A music box! Fuck off! “Crystalline” is the album’s best song, which employs the cross between a gamelan and a celeste that produces a very unique and crystal sound, while over-top, Bjork’s uses the title word as an easy hook that caps off the main vocal melody while also briefly harmonizing with it. And then, the whole thing erupts into a sudden drum and bass conclusion that comes out of nowhere; dynamics and a climax! On an album that subverts that shit in favor of nothing! (“Sacrifice” does the same, but to less visceral results.) “Mutual Core” is cool enough to recommend listening to at least once.

Anyway, George Starostin fucking killed this:

“[Biophilia] is a sprawling, arch-trendy multimedia project, accompanied with visuals, educational applications, specialized live performance, and, on the whole, first billed as a “3-D scientific musical” and then as the first ever “app album”, so now it can compete with Lady Gaga and Angry Birds at the exact same time: how smart is that?

Very smart, but, I am afraid to say, not very engaging. Personally, I am not very much interested in “multimedia artistry”, and I am definitely not interested in watching somebody who used to be a terrific musical artist try and make a transition to a state where music ceases to be the major attraction and becomes “just one side of the story”. From a certain point of view, this falls under the definition of “sellout” — in order to fit in better with the times, you sacrifice some of your strengths in favor of “what the market demands”. These days, the market demands dazzling interactive visuals, so we play a game of “construct your own universe from elementary particle scratch” or “build a drum machine from a combination enzymes” […] Yay, nice and cute and a good way to kill time for scientifically-oriented kids who hate reading books, but there is a downside to that: the more effort you spend on these things, the less effort remains for music.

And the music on Biophilia is disappointing — in fact, it is so disappointing that it just does not work as a self-standing album at all. Where Volta, for a while, returned Björk to the world of “art-pop”, Biophilia takes us back to the wild experimentalism of Medúlla, only using electronic textures in the place of that record’s multiple vocal overdubs — and using them to paint almost completely static pictures, with very few hooks and no musical development whatsoever. The typical recipé for a Biophilia song is — set a programmed groove and let the singer rave and rant against it for three to five minutes. Considering that the grooves are not of jaw-dropping quality, and that the singer’s raving and ranting is simply all too familiar, what’s a poor boy to do but inescapably turn his attention to the accompanying apps? At least pushing some buttons and learning to be the Master of the Universe will keep you from getting bored.

[…] Oh, if only the record would have a small pinch of emotional content in it — but alas, neither within its “applicational” context nor without it can I assess it as anything other than a purely formal, rationalized, carefully crafted, but ultimately soulless piece of work. Yes, there are lyrical themes here that tap into the personal, and any major Björk fan will see that, if we restrict our­selves to the words, she is actually using all that “scientific” imagery as simple metaphors for relations and feelings — like ʽVirusʼ, for instance, is really just a plain love song: “Like a virus needs a body / As soft tissue feeds on blood / Someday I’ll find you, the urge is here”. But the music that she writes is not indicative of any of those feelings. The music is more in the vein of Autechre — technologically-oriented “nano-grooves” that are much better rationalized and intellectually admired than intuitively enjoyed. And this even concerns the acoustic tracks like ʽMoonʼ and ʽSolsticeʼ, where Björk’s beloved harps replace the electronics.

[…] As a worthy follow-up to the grandiose/subtle beauty and joy of Debut, Post, Homogenic, and Vespertine, Biophilia does not stand a single chance — not in my book, at least. Next to these triumphs, there is nothing too new here, nothing too memorable, nothing too heartbreaking or heartwarming; and, worst of all, it sort of seems like the cheap designer thrills of the 21st century have finally gotten the better of a formerly unique and independent artist.”


3 responses to “Bjork – Biophilia

  1. Great “review” that’s only one paragraph and a quote from someone else’s review that’s like 3 times as long.

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