Björk - Fossora
Sep 30, 2022
88
Another late-career masterpiece from everyone’s favorite Icelandic songstress

At this point, Björk really does not need an introduction. She is one of the most celebrated artists of the past half century, known for her eclectic and quirky singing style and production.

Each Björk album is distinctly different from each other. To the grand sweeping string sections and bold electronic beats that define her 1997 opus “Homogenic” to the airy flute arrangements that made up much of 2017’s “Utopia”, or the almost 100% acapella “Medulla”, Björk has never been afraid to experiment and switch up her sound. On “Fossora”, a new set of instruments sit at the forefront of the album: bass clarinets. Essentially every track features them in some shape or form to varying degrees (besides maybe Freefall, Mycelia, and Sorrowful Soil). There is also a gabber influence on this album. Unfortunately, it is not as apparent as Björk was making it up to be in interviews for this album, but nonetheless Kasimyn of Indonesian gabber duo Gabber Modus Operandi makes the most of his time on this project. What I find to be particularly interesting about this album is that many of the tracks feel like they were taken from some of Björk's past projects and reimagined. “Allow” features flute sections that are incredibly reminiscent of “Utopia”, whilst “Victimhood” features a very soft beat that sounds like it was ripped straight from “Vespertine”. A lot of the string sections also call back to “Homogenic” and “Vulnicura”. This album feels like a tour through Björk past works but viewed in a new lense. There are some pacing issues on the tracklist, but the quality of all of the songs is so consistently high that it really is not that noticeable at all. The two biggest highlights on this project in my opinion are the two tracks that feature her children, those tracks being “Ancestress” and “Her Mother’s House”. Both songs are utterly captivating. “Ancestress” is a sprawling 7-minute track that calls back to the final moments of Björk's mother Hildur, and her eventual death. One of the most heartbreaking tracks in Björk's entire discography. “Her Mother’s House” is an airy duet between Björk and her daughter Isadora, talking about their mother-daughter relationship (I think, i’m not a writer or analyst so interpreting lyrics is not my strong suit). Another career highlight, 40 years into her career.

Overall, I think this is one of Björk's best albums to date. The soundscapes she employs on this project are dark and brooding, but simultaneously have a whimsical feel, also featuring quite a few callbacks to her previous releases. I couldn’t be happier with this project as a whole, and I cannot wait to see how this collection of songs age with time. An unsurprisingly fantastic release from Björk.

Mini notes on each track

Atopos: the opening track and lead single, heavily relies on dissonance. Quirky and about as odd as you can get with a Björk song, features a slamming gabber section in the final leg of the track. 8.5/10

Ovule: was initially my least favorite single but my standing on this track has improved tremendously since its release. 8.7/10

Mycelia: Interlude track composed of vocal chops. Interesting composition, love the various scale runs throughout the song. 8/10

Sorrowful Soil: admittedly my least favorite on the album on first listen, instrumentally very bare bones (only featuring various choral stacks and some bass). Really beautiful track though, I understand why the production is very minimal. 7.5/10

Ancestress: Probably my favorite single from the album, the lyrics are heartbreaking, documenting the death of Björk's mother from Björk's perspective. Amazing track about family with family, Björk's son Sindri features on backing vocals. 9.5/10

Fagurt Er Í Fjörðum: Really short poem interlude, not much to say besides it's a good like transitional track. no score

Victimhood: sections of giant brooding clarinets sweeping under a soft beat that sounds straight from vespertine. Beat eventually picks up, the song is less grandiose than other tracks and mostly lingers in the lower range. Incredibly beautiful song, definitely more on the dreary side. 8.5/10

Allow: The flutes remind me heavily of “Utopia”. This is probably the most sonically beautiful of any of the tracks, the subdued beat driving the flutes and clarinets is an incredibly lovely mix. Emilie Nicholas has a beautiful voice (reminds me a lot of Aurora). 9.5/10

Fungal City: Features a very metallic beat, really nice vocals from both Björk and Serpentwithfeet, the melody reminds me a lot of a disney track especially when the staccato strings come in. 9/10

Trolls-Gabba: probably the darkest track on the album. Features a lot of clanking beats, creepy vocal chops, and some weird ass sound effects (sounds like babies crying). Good interlude. 8.5/10

Freefall: Strings are back, starts off with a single very mournful section before the song’s atmosphere opens up and invites in various pizzicato string sections that slowly build and speed up. 8.7/10

Fossora: Atopos’ sibling, is the better track between the two. Best way to describe this song is kooky, featuring some fun clarinet arrangements before transitioning into full on gabber in the second half. 9/10

Her Mother’s House: Björk lends much of this track to her daughter Isadora. Easily the most tender song on the album. Isadora’s vocal riff that comes in a lot throughout the track is a big highlight of this project. In all honesty this song is a huge career highlight, definitely one of Björk's best closing tracks to date and easily the most sentimental. Cannot state enough how much I admire this track. 10/10

Highlights: Ancestress, Allow, Her Mother’s House

8.8/10

Track Ratings
1Atopos / 85
2Ovule / 87
3Mycelia / 80
4Sorrowful Soil / 80
5Ancestress / 100
6Fagurt Er Í Fjörðum / 80
7Victimhood / 90
8Allow / 95
9Fungal City / 90
10Trölla-Gabba / 85
11Freefall / 90
12Fossora / 95
13Her Mother's House / 100
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