For an artist who’s constantly creating new worlds, it feels only right that Björk would have her own personal lexicon.
Since as far back as “Hyperballad,” the art pop matriarch has cobbled together her own portmanteaus and scientific nomenclature, for when English — or any other dialect — has been insufficient to capture the intricate phenomena of her internalities. Now, a new term has joined the ranks of Björk’s constructed language: Fossora, a feminine form of ‘fossore,’ translated as “she who digs.” It’s an apropos title for her 10th studio album, which finds the relentless musical innovator digging into her back archives, her heritage, and into the fecund soil of her Icelandic homeland. Across these 13 tracks, gabber drums pound like drills down into the earth, revealing scenes of personal transformation and natural splendor.
Over the course of her solo career, Björk’s oeuvre has been defined by a refusal to do the same thing twice—her records held together by an inimitable voice and melodic instincts. That history has been a theme for this year’s rollout, with Björk revisiting each record — beginning with Debut — in her new podcast, Sonic Symbolism. Fossora, then, is notable for the way it harkens back as much as it looks forward. Throughout, there are traces of Post’s collagist club influences, Medulla’s a cappela orchestration, Biophilia’s exploratory unfinishedness, and Utopia’s wandering song structures. “Allow,” for one, is a holdover from the Utopia recording sessions. Led by that era’s signature trilling flutes, this ode to Björk’s relationship with electronic producer Arca elicits all the childlike glee of a kids’ TV show theme.
But if one Björk project set the blueprint for Fossora more than any other, it’s 2007’s much-maligned Volta. Yes, that’s the one with the tomato album cover, the one that serves as de facto bottom placement on any ranked list of her music. At the time of release it was undoubtedly a step down from the records that preceded it, but Volta’s vitality, aggression, and restlessness of spirit (as on highlights “Wanderlust” and “Declare Independence”) have now resurfaced in an ecstatic upspring. Then, the disparate collaborators and rejection of conventional pop forms on that Timbaland co-produced effort felt like chaos for chaos’ sake. Now, on Fossora, all of the chaos feels interconnected.