Björk being one of my favorite artists, I was VERY excited to listen to this. That said, my high expectations had left me quite anxious; I'm still not fully sure what to make of the album as a whole, but I'll try to articulate my thoughts as best as I possibly can.
5 years after her most bloated and uneventful release, "Utopia", Björk makes an explosive return with "Fossora", which might just be her most challenging and mind-boggling album to date. From the open-ended, abstract song structures to the incredibly unique mix of gabber, industrial and orchestral traditional music, this is a project that takes time to process (hence why I didn't review it yesterday). Even at the time of writing with four entire listens under my belt, there are multiple moments that still dumbfound me and leave me speechless. I'd also like to mention that I hadn't listened to any of the singles leading up to this, so I was basically left completely in the dark in terms of what it would sound like. And let me tell you, when I first heard "Atopos" yesterday, I was blown away. The out of tune clarinets paired with the occasional deep, reversed hits of bass are so jarring and off-putting that I was instantly hooked, and the album only gets weirder from there. "Victimhood" is very atmospherically dense, with soaring swells of dark instrumentation and a minimalistic electronic beat. "Trölla-Gabba", the record's most noisy and industrial cut, is still unbelievably confusing and horrifying to me, but I'm absolutely in love with it. That, along with "Mycelia", have multiple overlapping vocals that basically work as the instrumentals, and it reminded me a lot of "Medúlla". Although that is a great album, I feel like here Björk approaches those vocal ideas with a greater sense of direction and purpose, making both songs very entertaining and interesting. The fact that Björk is this late into her career and still making records that push boundaries and are wholly unique to her is astonishing; she truly is a once in a lifetime artist. She also sounds simply incredible here. I was obviously expecting her to sound great, but it's still amazing to see her nearing the age of 60 and still being able to sing so gorgeously. The writing here can not be overlooked either, as it's some of the most thought-provoking she's had in a while. I had tons of fun picking apart certain lyrics and coming up with my own interpretations; the mystical and enchanting instrumentation really helps with that too. "Ancestress" is dedicated to Björk's deceased mother, and while I wish it had a bit of a more engaging or interesting instrumental progression, the lyrics are beautiful, emotional and expressive. The features all work very well too, adding even more flavor to the expansive soundscapes Björk creates throughout the entire project.
While this definitely wasn't what I was expecting from a Björk comeback album, I cannot say I'm disappointed in any way. I'm being fully serious when I say that this is her best record since "Vespertine", and one of her best PERIOD. It'll definitely take people a while to get accustomed to the sound she presents here, and for some it may not end up working at all, but my god is this just a incredible listen. I wasn't crazy about it yesterday, but today nearly everything about it is clicking for me. Please, give this album a listen, and try to be as open-minded as possible. It's truly worth it.
Favorite tracks: Atopos, Trölla-Gabba, Fossora
Least favorite track: Sorrowful Soil