Björk sings a duet with Rosalía on the song Oral
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Björk’s albums over the past 20 years or so have been epic journeys, deep in innovation and imagination, but often completely inaccessible – like a James Joyce novel, the listener is constantly trying (and usually failing) to get a foothold. . None of it is a criticism: she’s one of the brightest artists the music world has produced in the last 35 years, but there’s sometimes a desire for something that doesn’t require a lot of work, something as wonderfully accessible as the “Hyper”-sounding “Ballad.” Or “Human Behaviour” or “New World” or “Joga” or even “Everything is Full of Love”.
On Tuesday, “Ural,” a duet with Spanish singer Rosalía that is her catchiest song in years, was released in the form of an unexpected statement in support of action against intensive salmon farming: the song “aims to highlight alarming cruelty.” and the dire environmental and ecological consequences of raising salmon in the open oceans of Iceland, Björk’s native country.
However, the song’s lyrics do not directly address the issue and seem more personal: “Your mouth floats above my bed at night / My private moon,” begins and continues in the same vein, as the two create a beautiful melody that recalls Björk’s “monolithic” era as electronic beats kick in. And the orchestra explodes on a grand scale on the glorious chorus, which actually evokes the moment the clouds disappear in an epic film.
The similarity to Björk’s previous material is no coincidence: According to the announcement, she first wrote the song between 1997’s “Homogenic” and 2001’s “Vespertine” albums, but “lost the song in her archives after feeling like it wasn’t there.” Suitable for the album. Björk rediscovered the song after being reminded of its name while touring Australia in March 2023, the same month a report was released on the devastating impact of poorly regulated Norwegian-owned commercial salmon farming operations on Iceland’s indigenous ecosystems.
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Having resonated deeply with the cause, and as an ardent activist and protester for most of her life, Björk enlisted Rosalía to help bring the song to life and thus raise awareness of the cause. The harsh practice of open farming, which was introduced to Iceland after Norwegian businessmen began buying up fish farms in the country’s fjords, involves intensively raising fish by trapping them in open water nets installed in natural waterways, where the fish are kept Closed until caught. Reaching marketable size. This accelerates fish growth and in many cases leads to genetic mutations in the salmon’s DNA, as well as being a breeding ground for a number of parasites and diseases. The industry in Iceland has grown tenfold since 2014, producing from less than 4,000 tons to 45,000 tons in 2021, and it is now estimated that annual production could reach 106,500 tons. Iceland has the largest untouched natural area in Europe, and the waste and pollution associated with open farming threatens to permanently damage the entire ocean environment. The lack of regulation and the industry being largely uncontrolled also means that thousands of sick, genetically modified salmon regularly escape the pens and swim upriver into the highlands of Iceland, where devastating genetic mixing occurs and puts the future of Iceland’s wild salmon at risk.
We want to thank visual artist Carlotta Guerrero and executive producer Zico Judge, of Blur & ProdCo, for creating a video art piece to go with this song and help raise awareness of the cruelty and extreme environmental and ecological consequences of the open ocean. Salmon farming in Björk’s native country, Iceland. Carlotta conceived the concept and executed the video, exploring the use of AI technology and embracing glitches that blur the line between reality and verisimilitude while challenging notions of identity. Throughout the piece, feminine anger is explored through the symbolic images of Björk and Rosalía. They don’t fight each other. They train together to fight the real and greatest enemy.
Proceeds from Oral will be used to support a legal case against the fishery, brought by residents of the town of Seyðisfjörður on the eastern side of Iceland. Read the statement on behalf of all participants below.
You can learn more about Icelandic fish farming from the Icelandic Wildlife Trust.