Björk has proven in the past that she’s not afraid to attempt conceptual complexity at the cost of accessibility. Her 2004 album, Medúlla, was almost entirely composed of music created by the human voice, from percussion on up. While often breathtaking, the record never felt fully realized—it worked as a part of an artistic ambition, but not so well on its own. So, when Björk announced that the upcoming Biophilia was partially recorded on an iPad, and that an app would accompany each song, it didn’t exactly bode well for the music. Thankfully, the first single, “Crystalline," isn’t hindered from the concept, and appears to ignore the logistical iPad-related aspects of the track completely. What’s left is a single that surpasses nearly all of Björk’s mid-'00s efforts, and reaches levels of mechanized, acrobatic force that she hasn’t attempted since 2001’s Verspertine. Over the course of the track, Björk navigates clinking electronic fragments that rise into a spastic drum-and-bass cacophony that sounds like asteroids colliding in the far-off reaches of space. Maybe inspired by Björk’s return to form, “Crystalline” is accompanied by a fantastical stop-motion video from Michelle Gondry, which itself feels like a revisit to his work from a decade ago. Whatever prompted the post-millennial iPad concept behind the album aside, the result is not some soon-to-be-dated gimmick, but a success that sounds truly timeless.
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