Björk is set to release her new album, Fossora, in the fall. It will be her tenth studio release, if you don’t count the album she cut as a child, her early ‘90s jazz record Gling-Gló, the Dancer in the Dark EP Selmasongs, or her work with the bands she made before going solo, like the Sugarcubes and Kukl. All of that’s to say that the world of Björk is opaque, and even something as simple as a discography is more complicated to explain than it is for most other artists. Björk, in turn, seems to relish that opaqueness. One of her many gifts is striking the balance between abstraction and specificity. In interviews, Björk is always saying new things with her trademark outlandishness, like an AI-powered talking bobblehead. More often than not, she makes sense or, failing that, at least leaves you with an indelible image.
This is all very much at work in The Guardian’s delightful profile that just dropped, which announces the imminent release of Fossora (a word that is “the feminine version of the Latin word for digger,” naturally). From the cover art of the upcoming release we learn, “she is a glowing forest sprite, her fingertips fusing with the fantastic fungi under her hooves.” As one is sometimes! The music is generally described by the article’s author like this: “the album’s two lodestones are bass clarinet and violent outbursts of gabber.” Gabber, for the uninitiated, is hyper-fast, pummeling techno. It might even seem satirically frenetic to the uninitiated until you realize that no, people actually dance to this.
Anyway, regarding those clarinets, Björk said that her goal was to make them sound “like Public Enemy, like duh-duh-duh-duh, like boxing.” Okay, sure! If you can get clarinets to do any of those things, no one should be able to stop you. On the album’s general tone, apparently a sort of continuation of the idyll cast on her previous album, 2017's Utopia, Björk delivered this gem: “Let’s see what it’s like when you walk into this fantasy and, you know, have a lunch and farrrrt and do normal things, like meet your friends. That’s “farrrrt” and not just “fart” because of Björk’s tendency to roll her Rs (how Scandinavian of her!). I for one would love it if the farts/farrrrts made it into the actual music.
On how she pitched the album to eventual collaborators Gabber Modus Operandi, Björk recalled to The Guardian, that she told them she was making her “mushroom album. It’s like digging a hole in the ground.” Ooh, that sounds psychedelic! Was it? “This time around, I’m living with moles and really grounding myself,” she continued. Well, hm then. Then she qualified: “I don’t know if that’s too far-fetched for you guys, but I have to speak in this sort of music lingo.” Ah yes, the musical lingo of mole cohabitation.
She’s fun, but also serious as the album contains two songs about her mother, who died in 2018. Also, Fossora will serve as Björk’s pandemic album, which apparently derived from a realization during lockdown:
There’s always a BPM in our bodies, you know? And I think through covid we were all pretty lazy, just sitting home reading books, so when we got drunk or partied it was like we went a little bit mental, then we just fell asleep before midnight. Slow energy, but then it goes double.
Uh sure. What did Björk do during lockdown? Glad you asked! “Guilty to admit it, but I was eating chocolate pudding every day.”
Also for the fall, she’s prepping a podcast about her discography that she’s been “digging into the archives for.” She also has no plans to quit doing what she’s doing: “I feel, as a singer-songwriter, my role is to express the journey of my body or my soul or whatever, and hopefully I will do that till I’m 85, or however long I live. I try to keep the antennas up and read where my body is at.”
Fossora sounds fun and less stuffy than recent albums, though there is a line in the profile that is extremely disconcerting on this matter: “There are moments of astonishing virtuosity and bewildering complexity and, like much of her recent music, a resistance to easy melody.” At this point, Björk has seemingly abandoned her pop tendencies, which I find disappointing as a longtime fan because her cross-breeding of earworms and alien sounds is what I’ve long admired most about her work. Now she may be more fun in concept than in practice but at least she still gives good interview.