Björk’s “Biophilia:” Beyond this World

In his death, Steve Jobs left yet another mark on something vital in the world: Björk’s music.

Björk’s newest album “Biophilia” debuted on Oct. 10 and was partially recorded on an iPad. It also pairs 10 songs with applications on the iPad and iPod touch.

This is not surprising news for fans of the Icelandic singer-songwriter who is perhaps most famous for her experimental use of musical instruments and unique ethereal voice. For this album, Björk worked with developers to record the album’s tracks using new creations of instruments.

Anyone who listens to Björk needs to know that listening to her music is like being transported into another world. And she does it again with her new album “Biophilia.”

Let’s start with the bad. Her strength lies in the music, but not necessarily the lyrics. She sings in a way that every word is elongated and when she finishes singing each one, you kind of forget what verse she was trying to form.

Yet  her tracks are wonderful products of her imagination, which also launched Björk’s career in the first place.

“Crystalline,” the third track of the album, opens with a strange xylophone sort of instrument and listeners can’t help but feel childhood nostalgia. But then her voice comes in and bass and electronic undertones are added, and again, listeners are transported to another world. Björk explores her art and her fans are always welcomed to go on her journey.

Her 11th track, “Hollow,” which is available in extended length, is very much rhythm-based. In the first minute of the track, Björk’s voice is completely absent, with what seems like a low-range string instrument as the main focus. This sets the tone of the piece, the mysteriousness that she wants to create. When she comes in with her delicate vibrato, she is joined by a disembodied chorus.

When you listen to any of Björk’s work, close your eyes. This is when her music is most effective and most extraordinary. Be enthralled by her varying range of voice that can be, at one moment, full with sound, and in another, delicate and vulnerable.

Her newest album “Biophilia” is a mix of the artist’s eccentricity as a musician, experimentation at its best and musical gold.

Published on Examiner.com: October 14, 2011

‘I need a place to stay’

The man at the front desk of Broward Outreach Center stared at me blankly. The walk to the homeless shelter had left the ends of my jeans soaked from puddles left by the latest rainstorm, and the hair on my arms clung to my skin. Wet streaks of black mascara outlined my eyes and my hair was disheveled.

“Please,” I begged. I just broke up with my cheating boyfriend and couldn’t stand it anymore; I had left in a hurry, bringing nothing with me.

I didn’t think I’d get in; the sign outside had said: “Full House. No beds.” With the center being a government-owned property, I thought they’d take one look at me and turn me away.

After what seemed like two minutes of silence, he sighed and shook his head. Then he jerked his head to the left and quietly told me to sit, his manner wary and tired. I, too shocked to respond, sat down. I started crying after he left, and in the moment, I dropped my act. Everything was real, I thought.

The man came back later and I thought he was going to turn me away. Full House. No beds. But then, he reached for a paper, eyes down, and asked, “ID?”

And for one night, I was no longer a college journalist, living in a bubble and reporting through emails and phone conversations. I was a heartbroken, homeless girl who was given a place to sleep for one night.

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Infiltrating a Government-Run Homeless Shelter

The 19 college journalists who participated in Will Write for Food 2011. Mike Rice/WWFF Photo Adviser

From Sept. 3-5, I participated in Will Write for Food, a Society of Professional Journalists sponsored program where 20 college journalists took over a newspaper that is written and operated by the residents of the Coalition of Service and Charity homeless shelter (COSAC).

The COSAC shelter in Florida serves the needs of homeless people. The foundation has no refusal policy, meaning residents, as long as they are homeless, and regardless of alcohol and drug abuse, can never be turned away. Residents are guaranteed a place to sleep, unless they do anything to hurt the shelter or threaten the current residents. Meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — are provided every day where each session would produce 150-200 meals.

The glue that definitely holds the shelter together is founder and director Sean Cononie. He has had 18 or so surgeries since 1980s, has a slew of health issues to worry about, and has a father dying from pancreatic cancer, and yet he still finds the ability to be an active leader for the homeless. Many residents are quick to defend him as a great person.

He knows many of his residents, his ‘clients,’ by name. Ask him a question about someone and he answers quickly, pulling scraps of information from his mind. He’s open to anything and graciously lets the participants of WWFF a place to work and a place to socialize and write.

See what we did during Labor Day Weekend