Björk once explained that David Attenborough is one of her mentors, and the two of them enjoyed screentime together on When Björk Met Attenborough. In the documentary, the two artists give their views on the world, curating a sense of intellectual intimacy between two disparate voices that come together as one view of the world at hand. The film ends with ‘Cosmogony’, suggesting that Attenborough inspired the song as a whole.
“There is an unexpected chemistry and fun between these two unique characters,” director Louise Hooper recalled. “They are both icons of their own separate worlds of music and nature, and both excited and curious to explore how these two worlds come together. Seeing Björk and Sir David laughing and engaging with each other on screen is simply magical, it was fascinating to have the chance to bring Sir David and Björk together for the first time on television. They were both great fun to work with; Björk fizzing with ideas for the film and Sir David bringing his passion and knowledge.”
The song in question stems from a fascination Björk has with the creation of the world, suggesting that the big bang theory is a construct of the 21st century, creating a new view on the world’s history on the world as a whole at large. It comes as a hybrid of science, history and mythology, which is why Attenborough – one of the world’s leading intellectual voices – is one of the people who serve as her muse and confidante.
The verses delve into the arena of change and contradiction, creating a level of ambition that pivots into the world as it turns around, and around, and around, and around. Her sense of melody and his brilliant mind ensured that the two of them could engage in a conversation that allowed the pair of them to discuss like two philosophical creatures of the night.
The footage is moving, and you can see Björk blush when Attenborough says he thinks about her often. In her own way, she returns the favour with the gorgeously-produced ‘Cosmogony’, creating a sophisticated tune that espouses the virtues of thought process and passion. The tune celebrates the two people – both the writer and the muse – in a way that brings the two disparate schools of thought, bringing a sense of persuasion and passion.
As a means of bringing the song together, it suggests that the world pivots like a world thundering away like the sound of a machine chugging away in the backdrop, like a stylistic workout of sound and intellect. Thankfully, the tune drifts better than the heavyhanded metaphors of the above quote, and it stands as one of the finest tracks in her canon.
The song ebbs and flows along with the energy of an artist devoting parts of her soul to the finished product. And so the vocal stands as one of her rawest, naked vocals, delving into the realm of tormented and taut. The vocal – coiled and scintillating – stands as one of the strongest vocal deliveries of her trajectory.
‘Cosmogony’ is one of the strongest songs in her canon, and it’s by any definition of the word, a classic. So, it stands to reason that it should fit in the documentary, showing the two characters in their life direction. The world pivots on thoughts, reasons, speculation and sincerity in an effort to make it a greater place to live in. But even without the backdrop, the song stirs a certain level of visceral emotion that makes it worthy of our attention and creates a level of a certain respect. It holds an infectious quality to it.