Icelandic singer Björk’s 10th album, Fossora, is one heavy piece of art. Over her nearly 40-year career, she has certainly been no stranger to creating haunting songs with equally otherworldly lyrics. Her newest album is no exception, as Björk dives headfirst into the hierarchy of her own life as a mother to her children and as her own mother’s daughter.
The album is full of feminine imagery, most blatantly in song titles like “Ovule” and “Ancestress.” Björk explores the bittersweet beauty of womanhood and motherhood throughout the album, while backed by her signature production, full of ghostly harmonies and sporadic bells and clangs. “Sorrowful Soil” encapsulates the album well by tying back to the album name Fossora, which is derived from the Latin word for “digger,” and in the artist’s words means “she who digs.” In the song’s long and breathy intro, she repeats “Our roots are dug into sorrowful soil” over and over again over a choir of mourning voices. She goes on to sing about the complexities of having a child, and how blessed yet tragic it can be, with the lyric, “In a woman’s lifetime she gets 400 eggs but only two or three nests.” This song, along with “Ancestress,” pays tribute to her late mother and links back to her own experience as a mother.
While the feminine overtone is prevalent throughout the album, Björk also sprinkles in many moments of whimsical earthiness, like in the opening track “Atopos” and “Fungal City.” These tracks continue the theme of “she who digs,” transporting the listener into a beautiful world, something Björk has been doing for years. The world of Fossora is described through vivid lyricism like “Trunks bursting through the moss” off of “Fungal City” and “Primordial plant glistening with moisture” off of “Allow.” Listeners can envision the bright, earthy greens and the vibrant fungi seen in the “Atopos” music video. The album comes full circle to Björk’s mother and her own motherhood on the closing track, “Her Mother’s House.” The lyrics on this song are nearly unintelligible, creating an ethereal choir of voices made up of Björk and her daughter’s overlapping vocals as they sing, “The more I love you, the better you will survive.” For such an experimental and, at times, dark album, ending it on this touching note does not go unnoticed. Listening to Fossora from beginning to end is a journey in and of itself, even with just 13 songs. Björk has remained a leader of alternative music for years, and each album she releases has the power to envelop you in its respective story. Fossora is no different — she has done it yet again.
Daily Arts Writer Gigi Ciulla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.