Whether orchestral music or stuff to jam in your spaceship, Bjork has her TV loving fingers in every cookie jar marked drug-like euphoria. Her past life of cute, fluffy pop tunes is dead. These days Bjork is content with atmospheric music combining forced, abrasive beats (those beats remind me of Volta) and orchestral backing. Her unique embedded and embossed signature is the excess vocal work that can mimic other instruments. The result is an overflowing soundscape that’s either uncomfortably claustrophobic or lavishly inviting.
The triumph of Fossora is how lovely it sounds despite those abrasive moments. Rather than becoming annoying, the constant waterfall pummel of vocals practically hypnotizes. Songs can also be quite simple instrumentally, bringing to mind her song Crystalline. With the addition of plenty of strings and horns on top it’s definitely a Bjork release, with the star being herself (of course). She sounds great in every song like time has not passed; it’s less her vocal accent/stylistic tendencies and more her singing ability. The transition between deeper, earthy tones and higher, suddenly explosive notes is effortless – she still got it.
As I listen to Fossora my warm nostalgia comes to envelop me once more, yet I’m tethered to reality. I’ll be straightforward: this is not Bjork’s best album. There’s some nice melodies and harmonization, but nothing as catchy as Crystalline; as a matter of fact, there’s a distinct lack of catchy proportions. Songwriting is drowning in its desire to go outside the typical verse/chorus formula that humans do. Obnoxious beats do their best to bring something tangible and more gripping to no avail. I find this album just as mesmerizingly beautiful as it is easy to fall asleep at the wheel. These tracks may work with headphones while I’m in a Zen state, but otherwise I’m going to start skipping to when it gets good.
The last problem here is the coagulation between tracks. Having no perceivable verses or choruses is dandy, until a lack of engaging moments diminishes the potential for more fun, or standout songs. Fossora is completely stuffed with the same expected strings and Bjork used instruments, awkward beats, and infinite vocal layering. The album is of one soundscape and gone is the variety of previous Bjork albums. From the first track you can predict how the rest of the album will sound.
There are great tracks here despite Bjork’s old pop attitude being practically erased. One of the more interesting songs here is Victimhood simply because it sounds different, it’s much darker than the vibe of the album and nearly sinister. The song Allow is also stunning and brings to mind Possibly Maybe in terms of the song’s ability to glue the listener to it. I take this album as a symphonic adventure, something I would buy tickets for to witness and get enwrapped in. It’s easy to pick out the flaws of the album, and it may take some patience to get lost in the music – it’s worth it if you have the time. Fossora has a wow factor that cannot be understated.
This may not be an immediately tangible album, call it an acquired taste. Bjork once again refuses to be boxed in or mapped out and instead travels on her own star path. There’s no catering to her audience here, just tracks in which she reveals her authentic self. I may miss the Bjork that I grew up listening to, but I’m still here to witness her journey. Bjork continues to amaze making music that many wouldn’t dare to, and it’s as captivating as ever.
I believe there are enough nods to the past to engage any previous listener of Bjork. Even then, Bjork’s incredible voice will always be a selling point for her music. She can sing over practically anything and make it sound good. That’s not an insult on her music but rather an acknowledgment of the potency of it. She has found a long time ago a soundscape that she can work with, something that compliments the ebb and flow of her beautiful voice, and it remains a masterful experience.