Calling Björk’s new work, “Biophilia”, her most ambitious effort to date, is an understatement. A press release from her label One Little Indianreveals more details about the “multimedia project comprising a studio album, apps, a new website, custom-made musical instruments, live shows and educational workshops”. As there’s quite a lot of information, so we’ll take it step by step.
1. Studio album
After “Crystalline” (on sale now via iTunes), “Biophilia” will be released on 26th September via One Little Indian and Nonesuch.
2. iPad apps
Every track on the album will have its own app, and they’ll all come together in a “mother app” called “Cosmogany”. What will we be able to do with them? The press release says, “every app has its own theme (in connection with its corresponding song) and combines a natural element with a musicological feature. The layers of content in each app includes: an interactive game based on the song's scientific and musical subject matter, a musical animation of the song, an animated score, lyrics, and an academic essay. The game enables the user to interact with musical elements of the song and to learn about different musical features while creating their own version; the musical animation and animated music score bring together conventional and innovative ways of representing music visually; and the academic essay explores the ideas behind each song and app and how they are realised musically.” So you’ll have to get an iPad to get the most out of what Björk and her team have cooked up.
The concerts presenting the album will be unusual. For the next three years, Björk will be setting up camp in eight cities across the globe for three weeks in a row. All of those shows will be at intimate venues, holding less than 2,000 people. The idea is to make everybody attending feel like they were part of one gigantic app. During her stay in each city, there will be educational workshops at schools based around the scientific-musical aspect of her new compositions.
4. The creation of new instruments
Both on the album and on stage, Björk will be accompanied by a series of instruments that were made especially for the occasion. Among them are “four ten-foot pendulum harps, in which the swinging motion plucks the strings and illustrates the songs' gravitational subject matter. There is also a unique ten-foot pin barrel harp called the Sharpsichord, a midi-controlled pipe organ and celeste (refitted with bronze gamelan bars) [you can see them in action below] , twin musical tesla coils,” and (not exactly an instruments), “a hang player and an award-winning 24-piece Icelandic female choir.” So there.
5. Documentary coming up
Lastly, Pulse Films is producing a 90-minute documentary in which every element from the “Biophilia” era, from the recording of the album to the live presentation, is captured.
Now we just have to sit and wait for the Michel Gondry-directed video for “Crystalline”.