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Björk: Biophilia (Nonesuch)

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Sometime in the last decade, Björk the artist began mutating into Björk the curator, a transformation that seems to be complete with Biophilia.

If you think this is just an album release, you're wrong. There's an iPad app, a website, an upcoming "making-of" documentary, tuning forks (they come with the "Ultimate Edition"), artwork and animation. All of that multi-platforming might be exciting if the foundation for the whole project—the 10 songs that make up the Biophilia album—was rock-solid.

It's not.

If you're looking to be reminded of why Björk inspires fanatical worship in so many, look no further than "Cosmogony." It's one of the album's most-immediate songs, one that knows exactly what to do with her voice: Put it front and center. The story she's telling us is fittingly ethereal, as Björk spirals through space and meditates on the origins of the universe. As she sings the word "heaven" in crescendo, she's her best self—an irreducible voice that sounds only like itself, and reaches heights accessible to no other contemporary artist.

But so much of this album is dull, straining under the weight of the whole Biophilia "concept." The additional gadgetry feels superfluous, because the album itself doesn't offer enough to warrant delving deeper; the song "Hollow," for example," is a masterful example of the mimetic fallacy.

Are these songs, Björk? Really? Or are they museum pieces?

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