Album Review: Fossora | Bjork
Long time no post but let’s start fixing this right now. We’re in the middle of October, Athens starts getting cold seriously for the first time and we’re about to enter my least favourite season of the year! You know what… No small talk needed here. I’m straight-up excited for this review so let’s dive into Bjork’s long-await descendant of Utopia immediately.
An insane, industrial rhythm opens Bjorks 10th album, Fossora, obviously inspired by her long-time collaborator Arca. The lyrics feel like typical Bjork (always atypical actually), using all the words that bring out the best of her signature articulation. ‘If we don’t grow outwards towards love, we’ll implode inwards towards destruction’. Always poetic and abstract yet always ridiculously precise at her expression, using her high emotional intelligence to put every single thought and feeling into the most fitting words possible. ‘Atopos’ is an experimental pop gem for the few and a reminder of Bjork’s ability to breed the earthly with the alien. Now, in the minimal ‘Ovule’, her voice is in the frontline chanting about dissolving old habits, experiencing deeper relationships and protecting this perspective like a fragile, glass egg above her head. ‘Ovule’s brasses sound like a celebration of this mindset whenever they are present through one triumphantly repeating melody. After a couple of repetitions, the track sounds almost pop no matter how disparate it truly is.
‘Mycelia’ is a playful, senseless transition leading to the compassionate ‘Sorrowful Soil’ where Bjork starts touching the maternal theme that ‘dresses’ Fossora. The chaotic choir and borderline non-existent instrumental reminds of Medulla with the artist emphasising on songwriting once more, this time exalting the female’s power to produce life as well as her self-sacrificial nature: ‘In a woman’s life time she gets 400 eggs but only two or three nests’. Knowing that this album is somehow dedicated to her gone mother, the closing moments of the track: ‘You did well’ have this relieving character with Bjork forgiving and recognising the efforts of her caretaker. All that before the 3rd single ‘Ancestress’ starts playing. This is one long, funeral song, tribute to Bjork’s mother, celebrating her life instead of mourning over her passing and describing her last moments on earth in detail: ‘The machine of her breathed all night while she rested’. What stuns me for the millionth time, is how Bjork is cynically delivering a complete, detailed image of a dying human and still manages to make it feel elegant in the most divine way. Anyhow, in ‘Ancestress’ the artist sounds mature, accepting, forgiving and fully aware as a mother herself and for some reason reminded me of Vulnicura’s ‘Black Lake’.
Fagurt Er I Fjordum’ sounds like a more conventional eulogy that drives us into the darkest corner of the album, ‘Victimhood’. Captivating for its dramatic, eerie electronic sounds, creepy percussion and sorrowful performance, this one is transforming itself multiple times in its 7-minute length where Bjork is almost free-styling over diverse melodies. I dare say that this track reaches its full potential in the first 4 minutes effortlessly and so the rest of it felt excess. ‘Allow’ takes us back to the celestial realm of her previous ‘Utopia’ with flutes creating a ceremonial atmosphere to lighten up this emotional journey and balance out its dark - vibed predecessor. The following ‘Fungal City’ expands this notion with serpentwithfeet adding his smooth, velvety harmonizing over playful melodies and metallic percussion making an interesting contrast.
‘Trolla-Gabba’ makes for another awkward transitional piece, a lot sharper and creepier this time, leading to one of the most beautiful moments in Fossora, titled ‘Freefall’. The dramatic strings are literally crying over Bjork’s desperate need for affection, sharing and becoming one with her partner. The instrumental gets truly magical as Bjork’s singing ‘Illuminate’ towards the end. Gentle and climactic at the same time. The homonymous track, ‘Fossora’ is undeniably one of the cutest pieces Bjork has ever dropped, sprinkled with an extra dose of charm and playfulness throughout the chorus. The explosive ending was very much unexpected yet absolutely Bjork-ish and reminding me of her work in Mutual Core, Crystalline and Pluto. The album’s closure feels like a lullaby, utterly comforting and hypnotizing, a last goodbye to her mother. The tracks depicts a gifted, compassionate woman who offers space for her children to grow, freedom for them to learn and become stronger. The backing vocals are literally healing and the track sounds like the ultimate closure, not only for this album but for Bjork as well, acknowledging her mother as a complete yet flawed human being, possibly hoping to be a good caretaker for her own children.
In a nutshell, Bjork made her tenth Horcrux, called it Fossora and put her deepest thoughts and feelings about love, loneliness and motherhood, described in extreme detail like she always does. Fossora reminded me of Biophilia for many reasons. It’s not only the way she uses fungi and nature to explain her emotional landscapes. It’s how she hides pop qualities behind abstract sounds and how those qualities manage to surface after many repetitions of the album. Still, the minimalism and use of choir we’ve seen in Medulla is pretty noticeable here as well. Closing this review, I feel like Fossora is one of Bjork’s most inspiring work to date next to Biophilia, Homogenic and Vulnicura, and it will most certainly grow deeper every time it's played.
Enjoy Fossora here: