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November 19, 2011  | by: Dania McDermott

Björk's Biophilia

Released in October, Björk’s eighth studio album, Biophilia, is understandably unique. Coming from an artist frequently exalted as “inventive” and “without peer,” originality becomes an inbred expectation.  To that end, Biophilia isn’t merely an album – it’s a musical project.

Inspired by nature and technology, Biophilia is also an app. With each of its 10 tracks available for purchase via the free “mother” app, fans who are so inclined can experience Björk’s offerings in a way no artist has ever thought to provide:

“The interactiveness goes really to the core of the music, the structure of the song,” Bjork told NPR. “It’s not just something like an accessory… It is the song.”

"Virus" App Screenshot

"Virus" App Screenshot

She’s not kidding. With each app interacting uniquely with its respective song, Bjork fans (with iThings) can look forward to tangible pleasures like speeding up a track’s arpeggio. If that’s not enough, $1.99 will also grant buyers with the song’s score, animations, and an essay about music and science that relates back to the song.

Geeky gadgetry aside, Biophilia may leave some fans disappointed where it truly counts: the music.

It’s not that Björk’s fallen short of her aforementioned originality; the woman is so deeply talented she can forge beauty from the unintelligible. The trouble with Biophilia is that too many of its tracks sound like B-sides — that is, they’re elaborate and pretty soundscapes, but not magical ones. At least not at first.

But it’s not all bad news. With the album’s roots embedded in nature, Björk succeeds where the physical phenomena related to the song most imply danger. Such is the case with standouts like “Mutual Core,” a feisty track inspired by tectonic plates; or “Thunderbolt,” a song for which the inspiration is obvious and the music anything but.

Of course, it’s always possible that the intimate restraint and thoughtful nature of Biophilia will eventually grow on Björk fans. It’s also possible that our beloved has become so evolved in her artistic expression that we’ve somehow failed to keep pace. Maybe positioning Biophilia as one big metaphor about the nature of man will help. Until then, there’s always the app.

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