THINGS.

A blog artwork by John Rogers.

43. The Dropcard

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This came from a new vinyl copy of Biophilia by Björk. It’s a card that allows the buyer to download the album as MP3 as part of their purchase. Very handy if you want to bung it onto your phone or computer.

I have long been a huge Björk fan. Like practically everyone else in England, when she first appeared I was very curious about her - this beaming, dancing little elfin being with seemingly no self-consciousness. She radiated a kind of joyful abandon in the ‘Big Time Sensuality’ video, in polar opposite to the flat-footed Britpop bands of the time. I imagine her arrival felt to me a little like that of David Bowie and his Spiders from Mars did to my parents.

Björk proceeded to utterly outclass every mainstream pop artist of the 90s by virtue of her wild musical imagination and wilder voice, her ongoing knack for arresting and bizarre imagery, and an ever-evolving sound taking in everything from fluttering micro-beats to big band bombast to crunchy industrial dance music. Her artistry contains an expansive and dramatic approach to collaboration and performance that ended up with her being recognised as one of the world’s leading musicians when she opened the Olympics.

Björk became a personal touchstone of mine - someone to be inspired by, and learn from; someone who experienced and utilised her artistic freedom to it’s limits, with a sensibility both explosive and refined. Björk was really a beacon of how I wanted things to be, at a time when I was living a frustrated life in a cultural backwater of the West Midlands.

Years later, I was lucky enough to be in Reykjavík the week Biophilia was released, and to gain last-minute access to the opening Biophilia performance at the newly completed Harpa opera house. The performance crackled with youthful energy undimmed, and pushed the envelope again in sonic and performative invention.

I was ecstatic and relieved afterwards - relieved, because my pass came with the job of reviewing the show for Iceland’s free culture paper, The Reykjavík Grapevine. Being negative about Björk in a big hometown publication would have broken my heart, and her previous album Volta was about as close to a ‘standard’ album as Björk has come. But I needn’t have worried - Biophilia is an adventurous and interesting set of songs surrounded by a mind-boggling art/research project that shifts the template on what albums can even be. I sat down in the lobby of Harpa and hammered out a glowing review right there.

She’s one of those people who has reached out and touched my life significantly from far away, not just through the work but by being how she is; and I’m sure that’s the same for many, many others.

  1. thingsbyjohnrogers posted this