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Björk - Fossora (Album Review)

Monday, 10 October 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Björk’s 10th studio album is her most arresting and relatable in years, deploying 13 tracks of avant-garde music based around key themes of familial loss, emotional complexity and fungi. It finds the Icelandic singer in extremely confident and innovative form, dodging obvious genres or even song structures. Whatever this music is, it feels a long way from pop.

'Fossora' uses a huge diversity of sounds and elements. Ancestress, featuring her son Sindri Eldon, employs tubular bells to match a freeform sung melody that rises and develops with strings, backing singers and complex tonality. It is completely thrilling music and acts as a funereal paean to Björk’s mother: “She had an idiosyncratic sense of rhythm / Dyslexia, the ultimate free form / She invents words and adds syllables / Hand-writing all of her own.”

There is also lead single Atropos, which matches boom bap drum patches with a woodwind section blasting out menacing, frequently atonal motifs.

As with much of the album, the rhythm feels pretty untethered here—the main hook is set around a variable reggaeton beat but there are long periods of the song that seem to just mooch about quizzically. It really keeps you on your toes when listening.

At this point in her career, Björk is an world-renowned musical auteur with a body of work and influence that goes beyond actual fandom. Each album, and this is a trend throughout her catalogue, is conceived as a direct digression from (or response to) the previous one. It ensures that her music is fresh and her artistic integrity remains intact. 

But it doesn’t always work—different settings, collaborators and creative processes can sometimes throw out tricksy, impenetrable music. Not so on ‘Fossora’. This is a superb album, full of inquisitive explorations and artistic bravery. Björk is one of Europe’s greatest living musicians.

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