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"Crystalline" / "Cosmogony"

"Crystalline" digital single cover
Single by Björk
from the album Biophilia
B-side "Mawal"
Released June 28, 2011 ("Crystalline" digital download)
July 19, 2011 ("Cosmogony" digital download)
Format CD, 12"
Genre "Crystalline": Electronica, intelligent dance, trip hop, breakbeat, alternative dance
"Cosmogony": Electronica, ambient, baroque pop, alternative rock
Length 5:05 ("Crystalline")
4:51 ("Cosmogony")
Label One Little Indian, Polydor (Europe), Nonesuch, Warner Bros. (NA)
Writer(s) Björk ("Crystalline")
Björk, Sjón ("Cosmogony")
Producer(s) Björk, 16bit[1] (Crystalline)
Björk singles chronology
"The Comet Song"
"Crystalline / Cosmogony"
Biophilia track listing
Music video
"Crystalline" on YouTube

"Crystalline" is a song by Icelandic artist Björk, released as the lead single from her seventh album Biophilia. The song was released as a single on June 28, 2011[2][3] accompanied by an iPad app developed exclusively for the song. "Cosmogony" served as its double A-side for both its physical and digital release.[4]


In March 2011[5] it was announced that Björk would play at the Manchester International Festival with a new concept of concert. Several songs from the album will be debuted during a series of performances at the festival between June 27 and July 16, 2011. Björk called the performances a "meditation on the relationship between music, nature and technology"."Special" instruments were designed and constructed specifically for these concerts.

A 28-second audio sample of "Crystalline".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The release of the song was preceded by three teasers: on the first one, entitled "Road to Crystalline" we can see Björk driving her Hummer through a road in Iceland while playing an excerpt of a demo version of the song; on the second one, we could see one of the new instruments developed for the Manchester performances, that also plays on the track: the 'Gameleste', a celesta which was modified by Icelandic Organ builder, Björgvin Tómasson and British Cymbalsmith and Gong maker, Matt Nolan so that it sounds like Gamelan and could be played remotely by MIDI or even an iPad;[6] and on the third teaser, recording sessions of the remix featuring Omar Souleyman were shown. The song leaked onto the internet on June 25, 2011.[7] On June 28, 2011, UK producers 16bit confirmed via Facebook that they produced the song.

"Crystalline" is a mostly electronic song, featuring a continuous 'gameleste' base and electronic beats and rhythm. After the bridge, the song features a gameleste solo, and consequently ends with an uproarious drum and bass section which uses the Amen break. The soundscape seems to be a hybrid of the musical stylings of her previous albums Vespertine and Volta, with undercurrent percussive elements from her album Homogenic.[8]

The lyrics to "Crystalline" talk about the process of crystallization in minerals and rocks but taking a more personal point of view, relating the growth of a crystal structure with the growth of relationships in people's hearts. Björk took inspiration for the song from cities and buildings:

I’ve sat a lot of my life in buses and taxis from 20 years of touring and somehow all these different types of intersections have gone on file in my brain. Like some have three streets meeting with very tall buildings on all sides while others are complex with like five street meeting but all buildings are low and so on… Seems like each one of the has a different mood, different spatial tension or release. Part of my obsessive nature wants to map out each intersection in the world and match it with a song… To me crystal structures seem to grow in a similar way.

Meanwhile, "Cosmogony" is a more calm and warm song, marking the link between the previous Björk project, Volta and Biophilia, using distorted brass, but in a much more intimate soft way. The lyrics to "Cosmogony" are also far from the rest of the songs on the album, while those are focused on technic or metaphoric facts about a natural phenomenon, the "Cosmogony" lyrics turn into a philosophic view, based on several myths about the creation of the universe. Björk explained:

This song is the "music of the spheres" song for me... So it's all about copper and rotating things and harmony and equilibrium and the universe and where there’ s a place for every little thing and we're all taken care of.

Björk also considers the song as some kind of joke, branding the Big Bang theory as a 20th-century creation myth:

I guess after watching documentaries about string theory, [the song] was sort of a personal joke [...] Big Bang [is] 20th Century and string theory [is] so 21st Century [...] I guess all creation myths at the time of their making were science. I’ll bet the pharaohs thought pyramids and mummies were the future – that was pretty science fiction. 3000 years later it is just mythology and the creation myth. In this song you have 4 verses. The first verse is the American native creation myth, next verse is Sanskrit creation myth, the 3rd verse is Aboriginal creation myth and the 4th verse is Big Bang theory.



Music video[edit]

The music video for "Crystalline" was recorded on May 26 and was directed by long-time collaborator Michel Gondry.[10] It was premiered on July 26, 2011 on YouTube. The video opens with a view of the moon and a meteor shower on it, forming different forms and crystals. Björk stars as a spectator of the meteor rain in the sky, as some kind of god. The video features heavy computer and stop-motion animation. Gondry explained about the video:

We filmed the clip still by still, exposing the film several times. I decided that, in the clip, the meteor shower would fall onto the ground and make a sound. The idea of a ray of light provocating an impact on those things and making them move intrigated me. Then, they create wavelets, just like rain. On the third verse, they create bubbles where metallic objects appear. All this resulted from several conversations I had with Björk about these matters.[11]

The video received a nomination at the Antville Music Video Awards, in the Best Art Direction category.[12]


Every song on Biophilia has an app for iPhone or iPad. The main app was released on July 19, 2011, coinciding with the release of "Cosmogony", and it integrates all the songs' apps.

"Cosmogony" is the "mother app" that consists of the main menu of all of the other apps connected to Biophilia. Visually, it is a 3D universe designed by M/M (Paris) that can be explored that includes shortcuts to the rest of the apps.

The app for "Crystalline" is a video game that uses the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad's tilt feature to move a crystal through various tunnels. By collecting different crystals in the game, different instrumental parts are played, and different parts of the song are played in the different tunnels.

Live performances[edit]

Björk debuted the songs during a series of performances at the Manchester International Festival in England between 27 June and 16 July 2011. Björk performed Biophilia tracks and music from her back catalogue with a small group of musical collaborators, including Graduale Nobili, an Icelandic female choir.[13][14]

Björk performed the songs live on BBC2's Later... with Jools Holland. On November 22, 2011, the performance of "Crystalline" was broadcast, while the performances of "Cosmogony" and "Thunderbolt" were shown on November 25.[15] On January 31, 2012, Björk performed "Cosmogony" live on The Colbert Report, wearing an Iris Van Herpen blue dress and a red wig.[16] She sang the song accompanied by a choir and a set of iPads that produced beats, played by Max Weisel. Her performance was well received by critics who deemed it as "heavenly"[16] and "pretty euphoric".[17]

Track listing[edit]

Official versions[edit]


  • Album version – 5:08
  • Serban Ghenea Mix/Single Mix – 5:06
  • Radio edit/Serban Ghenea Mix Edit – 3:47
  • Omar Souleyman Remix – 6:41
  • Matthew Herbert Mix – 5:17
  • Matthew Herbert Instrumental – 5:15
  • Current Value Remix – 5:02 released on Part 1 of the Biophilia Remix Series
  • MIF live version – 5:26 (Biophilia: Manual Edition CD2)
  • PMRH version – 5:21 (demo version, stream available for a limited time on Icelandair In-flights)


  • Album version – 5:01
  • Serban Ghenea Mix – 4:51
  • Matthew Herbert Mix 1 – 5:04
  • Matthew Herbert Mix 2 – 4:17
  • Matthew Herbert Instrumental 1 – 5:05
  • Matthew Herbert Instrumental 2 – 4:15
  • El Guincho Remix – 6:21 released on Part 3 of the Biophilia Remix Series
  • MIF live version – 5:24 (Biophilia: Manual Edition CD2)
  • Brass Instrumental version – 2:58 (released in early 2011 to accompany the Solar System App)


Chart (2011) Peak
Brazil (Billboard Hot 100)[18] 93
Brazil (Billboard Hot Pop Songs)[19] 20
Japan Hot 100 (Billboard) 18
Portugal (AFP) [20] 43
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[21] 29

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Worldwide[22] June 28, 2011 (2011-06-28) "Crystalline" digital download One Little Indian
July 19, 2011 (2011-07-19) "Cosmogony" digital download
July 19, 2011 (2011-07-19) Serban Ghenea Mixes CD/LP/digital download
July 26, 2011 (2011-07-26) Omar Souleyman Versions CD/LP/digital download
August 2, 2011 (2011-08-02) Crystalline Matthew Herbert Mixes CD/LP/digital download
August 2, 2011 (2011-08-02) Cosmogony Matthew Herbert Mixes CD/LP/digital download


  1. ^ "16bit, un projet avec Björk". 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  2. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  3. ^ "Biophilia / Lanzamiento en Septiembre - App desde 30 Junio". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  4. ^ "Crystalline et Cosmogony en cd et vinyl". 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  5. ^ Collett-White, Mike (2011-03-17). "Snoop Dogg, Bjork to star at Manchester Festival". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  6. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  7. ^ "Escucha "Crystalline", primer single de lo nuevo de Björk". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  8. ^ Cragg, Michael (2011-06-29). "New music: Björk – Crystalline | Music". London: Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  11. ^ "Le clip de Crystalline". 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  12. ^ "The Antville Music Video Awards 2011". Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (17 March 2011). "Björk to Debut New 'Biophilia' Songs at Residency in England". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  14. ^ Young, Alex (17 March 2011). "Björk readies iPad album, Biophilia". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Björk, Later 2011". Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Matheson, Whitney (2012-02-01). "Video: Stephen Colbert gets up close with Bjork". USA Today. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  17. ^ Bleggi, Doug. "Watch Björk perform ‘Cosmogony’ and get interviewed by Stephen Colbert". Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Brasil Hot 100 Airplay". Billboard Brasil (Brasil: bpp) (2): 100. August 2011. ISSN 977-217605400-2
  19. ^ "Brasil Hot Pop & Popular Songs". Billboard Brasil (Brasil: bpp) (2): 97. August, 2011. ISSN 977-217605400-2
  20. ^ "Top 100 Portugal". 
  21. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Indie Chart.
  22. ^ " official shop". Retrieved 24 September 2011.