When told to think of something explosive from Iceland, you’ll probably think of Eyjafjallajökull, the impossibly named volcano. Thankfully, however, it’s that other explosive entity from Iceland who has been causing a fuss. Yes, Björk is back.
It’s been three years since she last was in the UK, and now she returns with Biophilia; a multi-media extravaganza exploring sound in nature.
Björk is more than simply a singer/songwriter; as a composer, producer and actress she truly brings substance to the term “artist”. She began creating music at the incredibly young age of 11, and toyed with various genres including punk and jazz, before collaborating with a surrealist arts group in the late 80s, which eventually evolved into the band The Sugarcubes, where she gained more wide-spread recognition.
After the dissolution of The Sugarcubes in 1992, her extensive solo career began, from the sublime (Play Dead) to the ridiculous (It’s Oh So Quiet). Including remixes, greatest hits and the very first album she recorded back in 1977, Björk has released an impressive sixteen albums in total.
However, as mentioned before, music isn’t the only path Björk takes an active role in. Following in her activist mother’s footsteps, she has been involved in many environmental issues in her native Iceland, mainly following a theme of sustainable energy. Using unconventional methods of demonstration has become commonplace for her, and in January this year, Björk hosted a karaoke marathon, in protest of a Canadian energy company taking over Iceland’s HS Orka power plant. An incredibly talented woman, she seems fully aware that any means of receiving press coverage, be it deemed crazy or ingenious, indicates her cause being spread internationally, and like many other highly influential women in history, being irrational, absurd and outspoken is not necessarily a bad thing.
Björk is someone who is, maybe, difficult to understand. She’s been known in mainstream media as that insane woman who released that near-novelty song, attacked a news reporter and wore a swan to the Oscars, but if you dig a little deeper, you find this extraordinarily gifted human being, with incredible passion and drive who has been recognised as such by some unbelievably respectable people including classical composer John Tavener, who called her “far more intelligent than most classical singers”.
It will be interesting to see the result of what Biophilia promises; with new musical instruments being developed especially for the project, an award winning Icelandic choir and 30 foot pendulum. Seeing Björk’s audio-visual take on the universe, from molecules to planets, will be a remarkable and bizarre journey to be taken on.