For Iceland's highest profile artist the universe and science serve as the musical jumping off point for her 7th album (not counting Telegram, Selma Songs and Drawing Restraint 9 soundtrack). The title Biophilia refers to the love of all living things and this scientific obsession fuels Björk's experimental approach on tracks like "Thunderbolt", which uses Tesla coils for beats. Much of the album was recorded with custom built instruments such as bespoke pipe organ that runs on an iPad and a pendulum that harnesses the earth’s gravitational pull to create bass lines that fall like gravity on "Moon". Viral love songs (Virus), atomic structures and geological crystals (Crystalline) for the context of the lyrics and if this all sounds a bit weird, well it is.
And it's Björk.
And it's one of the best records of the year, easily.
Perhaps for some, it's easy to pass off Björk's musical innovations as quirky or difficult for the sake of pretension, her albums have steadily become more and more abstracted and less pop oriented (though her record sales have continued to climb) For the money there is no more fearless innovator working on the planet, especially one so firmly rooted in pop culture and pop music- Never simply revisiting their past glory on greatest hits tours, making embarrassing attempts to stay currant (ahem-Madonna) or segueing into easy listening (nor obscurity) .
Björk is a performance artist of the highest caliber, make no mistake about that, she's as much uptown high art (if not more so) than downtown club kid. Biophilia is made to play live, with all it's particulars, aided with an award winning all-female Icelandic choir and a multimedia visual extravaganza.
Always avant guard, the album is released with iPad apps for each song, creating an interactive experience for listeners. Delving into the science nature, the album apps are introduced by none other than Richard Attenborough.
Biophilia, like it's intellectual kin Medulla is a record that needs a little time to take in, but rewards the listener again and again with deconstructed arpeggios, stunning clarity and unique instrumentation, again reminding us that Björk is not only a national treasure for Iceland but also the world.
Check out her umpteeth collaboartion with the brilliant french film maker Michel Gondry.