All the tracks on Björk’s ‘Fossora’, ranked by us

All the tracks on Björk’s ‘Fossora’, ranked by us | Soho House

The Icelandic super creative has released an album, and David Levesley is here with a breakdown of each song

Thursday 29 September 2022   By David Levesley

Half potential anthems for Iceland, half sounding like a concept album of Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market, Fossora is Björk using every paint on her palette to create a bacterial, majestic sci-fi world loaded with pathos.

While Fossora deserves to be enjoyed as a full record, carefully ordered and structured as a psychedelic gothic fantasy, if you only have a few minutes to see if it’s for you? Here’s where to turn your attentions first and foremost: we’ve ranked every track from ‘abottomos’ to the ‘atopos’.

13. ‘Fagurt Er í Fjörðum’
As stunning as Björk’s version of this Icelandic folk song is… It’s an interlude isn’t it.

12. ‘Trölla-Gabba‘
A horrifying descent into madness, like a bad trip. This is far from a critique: it’s undeniably the point. Musically proficient, beautifully produced, but I’m not planning on requesting it on a night out.

11. ‘Atopos’
You couldn’t ask for a bolder first single for a new album: clarinets and thudding gabber combining the antiquated and the modern into something timeless, which would perfectly soundtrack both a night out or another season of The Dark Crystal. However, it’s not my favourite track for reasons only my gut can understand.

10. ‘Victimhood’
Muddy, dockland-esque productions on songs where Björk battles with difficult emotions are not unfamiliar territory for her – if you told me this was a lost track from Homogenic, I’d believe you. It’s a brilliant piece of music, but it doesn’t feel like it punches you in the chops the way, say, ‘All Is Full Of Love’ does.

9. ‘Mycelia‘
Björk explored the full range of the human voice on Medúlla, and it’s no surprise then to see her playing with what polyphony can do here. What has the potential to sound like the swingle singers manages to, instead, become a song I can’t wait to hear sampled in warehouses.

8. ‘Ancestress’
There’s a case to be made for every track on this album delving into some part of the previous musical language of Björk’s albums: here, the glacial instrumental immediately takes one back to Vespertine, though here it’s more about matriarchy than orgasms. It’s all a bit more off the rhythm than some of her other anthemic numbers, and that’s all for the good: it’s not my favourite, but it’s still fantastic.

7. ‘Ovule’
I can’t help but love this song for its dalliances with Björk’s previous albums Volta and Biophilia. Where Volta’s use of horns can feel a bit cluttered, here they really add to a specific type of Björk banger: almost arythmic, but entirely joyous.

6. ‘Sorrowful Soil’
Björk knows how to write a choral number: ‘Sorrowful Soil’ has the kind of – excuse the pun – pagan poetry that the heights of Biophilia had, but feels a little less celestial: in this instance, I think the earthiness is what makes this one work so well.

5. ‘Allow’
In an album of thick, heavy arrangements ‘Allow’ is light and spectral, and absolutely beautiful. It starts off almost feeling like it could be Tchaikovsky, before turning into the soundtrack for a mystical woodland temple in a Zelda game.

4. ‘Freefall’
On Vulnicura, Björk proved she knows better than anyone how to convey singular, human sorrow in music that feels anything but universal. ‘Freefall’ continues this trend – her vocals soaring, the strings skittering, the entire song building and building. The poetry of her lyrics here, too, is triumphant: moving from mountain hikes to the solar system, no one blends the high and low like her.

3. ‘Fossora’
The combination of woodwinds, thudding techno and Björk’s vocals just hit different here in a way that ‘Atopos’ didn’t immediately for me. The way it builds at the end into pure relentless joy is complete magic, a perfect 11 o’clock number for the album.

2. ‘Fungal City’
The sonic equivalent of a weird mid-20th century stop motion movie from the Eastern bloc. Fantastical, threatening, and completely new. Every time you think you’re on familiar ground? Bam. A new instrument. Serpentwithfeet’s vocals, in particular, are a phenomenal addition: it’s hard for a vocalist to blend with Björk’s, but he does so with aplomb.

1. ‘Her Mother’s House’
This is Björk operating at the peak of her abilities as a writer of choral music. The combination of dulled, edited vocals and soaring harmonies, the sparseness of the score, the clarinet – the singer is at her most beautiful and ambient, something unlike anything she’s done before. Her daughter’s vocals intertwining with hers – which could so easily feel like cheap nepotism – bring the song to another level entirely. A masterpiece.

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