Anthony Fantano, SCSU Alum, told me to review the new Björk album
Ali Fernand – Features Editor
Icelandic singer, songwriter Björk has released an album, Fossora, on September 30th. This is her 10th studio album of her over 30-year career. Björk first turned heads in the 90’s. She was a leading woman in the alternative music scene. She was first the lead singer of the band “Sugarcubes.” They released their first album, “Life’s Too Good,” in 1988 and disbanded shortly after in 1992.
After “Sugarcubes,” she then went on to pursue a solo career. This landed her hits which included “Army of Me,” “Venus as a Boy” and “Human Behavior.” These singles and her albums landed her many music awards including NME Awards, MTV Music Video Awards and Brit Awards. The sound of her music has been experimental. It contains influences of electronic, rock, trip-hop and classical. Björk’s alternative sound has landed her as a darling of the music magazine, Pitchfork. Though never reaching popstar status, Björk has been a staple for music lovers. The height of her popularity was in the 90’s. However, her cult following has kept her afloat to keep making music.
In Fossora, Björk collaborates with many small artists. The features on this album do not have more than 600,000 listeners on Spotify. These features include Kasimyn, Sindri Eldon, Emilie Nicolas and “serpentwithfeet.” In this way, Björk can put the spotlight of the album on her and these smaller artists.
The general sound of this Björk album is dark. It sounds as if it should be the soundtrack to a horror movie. It is not an album that I would listen to alone in the woods. However, Björk never jumps out and scares you in this album. Regarding the dynamic, it remains stagnant for the most part. That does not fail the mood of the album. The lack of predictability or build creates an unsettling mood. I as a listener feel more intrigued by where the song will go. Songs like “Ovule” and “Mycelia” remain the same sonically the whole time, yet they still evoke dark emotions.
Many of the songs contain classical instrumentation. Due to Björk’s classical upbringing, she can creatively incorporate this instrumentation into her music. Many of the horns and woodwinds are very dissonant. The harmonies clash in a way that disturbs the listener. “Victimhood” and “Sorrowful Soul” use this instrumentation. The dissonant instrumentation is paired with a chorus of Björk’s vocals. This creates a spacey effect that is also grounded. There is not much percussion to any of the songs besides a smacking bass drum.
“Fossora” contains a few bright moments. It includes “Ancestress,” “Allow” and “Fungal City.” “Ancestress” contains bright strings and chiming xylophone. This is the longest song on the album, running over seven minutes. Despite the length of this song, it is the strongest of all the other songs on the album. The length gives it the perfect amount of time to get its point across.
There is a lot of filler in the album that feels unnecessary. These songs have little musical or lyrical content. “Fagurt Er í Fjörðum” and “Trölla-Gabba” are both under one minute and 30 seconds. They feel as if they are not given enough time to add anything to the album.
Björk lyrically explores ideas such as love, nihilism and motherhood. A lot of the focus is on the cycle of life. She talks about how we reproduce to continue our flesh then die. A lot seems to be how she is coping with the meaning of her life and trying to find the value in the ones that she created. Björk also speaks of the sacrifices made as a mother. As mothers lose a lot of their life to give to their children. Though very dark, this album is filled with love. She speaks of her love for her partner and her two children.
Overall, Björk has been able to create a beautiful and spacey record. It is one of her most eerie projects to date. It doesn’t contain much dynamic, which is something I look for in albums. However, I feel that it works for the most part in keeping the sound cohesive in the record. It is a little bit hard to sit down and listen to because of the dissonance and lack of predictability. At the end of the day, Björk succeeded in what she wanted to do. Overall, I’d give this album a 7/10.