Instead of living in the past though, let's look to the present, and Bjork's new project “Biophilia”. Amazingly, it has been four years since her last release “Volta”, and knowing the work ethic of this Icelandic lady over the years, it can be rest assured that those four years haven't involved her sitting idle. True to form, the album was actually part-recorded on an iPad, with the album being released as a series of apps - one of the first major artists in the world to do so, no less. The idea appears to be to allow the user to not just listen to the music, but interact with it too, even to the point of being able to make your own versions of the tracks. Artists such as Matmos have been heavily involved in the creation of the album, along with brand new instruments actually being created especially, so though there is so much to take in, it still all comes down to the music - here's the low-down...
“Moon” opens the set, and is pretty minimal. It's plucked strings and Bjork's voice, which doesn't appear to have changed at all since the last time out – as iconic and unique as it is timeless – a strong opening. “Crystalline” is an amazing attempt at a schizoid track – being playful at first, and featuring a “gameleste” one of the series of invented instruments for the album, being a mixture between a gamelan and a celesta. The track gets menacing towards the end though, with the introduction of Amen breaks reminiscent of the IDM/glitch music scene of a couple of years ago. A pleasingly bizarre track, and the first single too, which shows how far Bjork has pushed the envelope this time! “Sacrifice” is also gloriously skewed, sounding like some new form of space jazz, before spurting out skittering beats a-plenty into the ether.
Unfortunately, not all of the album seems to work based just on the music. I find it hard to love “Dark Matter” as it is, as there is very little going on of note (ambient could describe it) but that would be being kind I fear. Also, “Hollow” is nice, but little more than that, until the glitchy beats kick in that is. My favourite is probably “Mutual Core” though, as it is at one minute very lo-fi and, in the nicest possible way, almost home-studio sounding, before going off into techno bass rhythms that had my spine tensing and flexing in time to the track.
“Biophilia”, on the whole, is not one of Bjork's best I hate to say, but for anyone who has a vested interest in the continuing development of one of the most forward and free-thinking popular music artists of our time, it is completely and utterly Bjork, and could not have come from anyone but her. If you like Bjork, you will like most of this set, and surely that is recommendation enough.