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SEASON 2, EPISODE 5
What's in an album cover?
(with Björk Songs as Tarot Cards)

Björk's album covers are almost as important as the music. Each one features a character that tells the story of the album; to understand that character is to understand the mood and theme of the songs inside.

Saša Milic, who runs a popular Facebook page called Björk Songs as Tarot Cards, joins me to examine Bjork’s album covers one by one. We’ll decipher the album’s archetype, color palette, and fashion to learn what each cover tells us about the music itself. And Saša will make a few connections to tarot cards along the way.

 
 

TRANSCRIPT

Savannah Wright: My first memory of Bjork isn’t of her music. It's one of her album covers. 

 

I remember sitting in the backseat of my mom’s old minivan on my way to a dentist appointment or a cello lesson or something. My sister Marisa was driving, and she was rifling through some CD’s at a stoplight. She pulled out one with a bizarre cover — it was unlike anything I’d seen before.

 

A woman with pale skin stands in front of an icy blue background. She wears a silver kimono with a ruby red collar... and a thick bronze neckpiece that makes her neck look stretched and elongated — like one of those Modigliani paintings I learned about in school. 

 

But that’s not even the weirdest part. This woman also has two enormous buns on either side of her head. They look like satellite dishes. Her nails are unusually long. And her eyes… are silver and black. Alien-like.

 

If you’re a Bjork fan, you of course know which cover I’m describing… Homogenic.

 

For me, Bjork album covers are almost as important as the music — but I couldn’t explain why. 

 

That is, until I talked to another Bjork fan about this. 

 

Sasha Milic: Hi, my name is Sasha. I run a page on Facebook called Bjork songs as tarot cards. 

 

Savannah: Like me, Sasha spends a lot of time reading and categorizing old Bjork interviews. As she read more and more of these, she saw certain themes emerging.

 

Sasha: And I realized that just the things that she was touching on were so universal, that it immediately came to mind like, oh, it's the tarot cards like it, the tarot cards are like, in my opinion, the best system of. Of archetypes and it was through, it was through that lens, through that framework that I started analyzing her music.

 

Savannah: Little did she know... Bjork also has an interest in tarot cards. 

 

[Bjork clip - album covers are like tarot cards]

One thing that maybe I haven't talked about that much, is that for me, the characters on the covers of my album are almost like tarot cards. They're kind of like the archetypes or the sort of character that did that album. I think often once I've done a whole album and I've mixed it and I put it and given it to my manager and it's done, I sort of start doing the visuals and I can sort of be like, oh my God. Okay. I get it. This this kind of character.

 

Savannah: When Sasha shared this quote, something clicked. I suddenly understood why Bjork’s album covers feel like a central piece of the puzzle. Because each album cover features a character that tells the story of the music. To understand that character... is to understand the mood and theme of the songs inside.

 

So in this episode, Sasha and I will go through Bjork’s album covers one by one. We’ll decipher the album’s archetype, color palette, and fashion to learn what each cover tells us about the music itself. And Sasha will make a few connections to tarot cards along the way.