First published on 27 Oct 2011. Updated on 20 Dec 2011.
Björk began Biophilia as a project for National Geographic, and its genesis shows – the Icelandic envelope pusher’s eighth album is a thing of emotional and scientific marvel, a bit like having a Viking soprano serenade you as you watch Planet Earth in high-def.
These ten tracks of haute soul are largely played on clever, invented instruments, like a Tesla-coil keyboard on ‘Thunderbolt’, and a robotic music box filled with dozens of hammered brass plates. When the latter chimes away, seemingly at random, you consider that behind the scampering pattern lies programming and a brain.
It’s nerdy, sure, but rooted to the heart by Björk, whose voice remains the greatest force of nature. Her booming pipes are front and centre, set against her least cluttered arrangements yet, which shift between Japanese chamber folk and eerie church organ. When the electronic bits rush in, it’s wonderful.