The iconic Björk released a new album — Biophilia — for the iPad and it is a magical experience to interact with her music with your ears and fingers and eyes. This is how music is meant to be experienced. You can touch the tones. You can manipulate rhythm and melody — and everything still remains innately Björk — but your unique involvement in changing the music through experimentation cannot be denied:
For Biophilia, she’d originally envisioned a musical house — like a museum, she’s said — wherein people could roam from room to room, with each interactive space designated to a different song. Later, she envisioned an IMAX film experience with visionary filmmaker Michel Gondry. When both of those ideas fell through, Björk commissioned an iPad app with which users can manipulate her music with various games, remix it and further understand the scientific and musical principles behind each song. It’s a lot like her idea for the musical house, but in a digital environment. It’s also just the kind of bonkers vision that Björk would be drawn to, and if it all works, it ought to be ingenious and tons of fun.
The iPad App presents the Björk universe. You can twist and spin and pinch it until you land on a song of your choosing for deeper investigation.
The music is never secondary to the interactive experience.
In fact, even during lyric sceens, the music is still all over you.
If you don’t wan to play with the music, you can let the visual experience automatically wash over you.
The Björk world is exciting and complex. You can spend hours trying to navigate your way from experience to experience.
Even if you aren’t a Björk music fan, you can still enjoy the interactive experience she’s created for you on the iPad. She offers you many pathways to understanding. The mode you choose is purely your own intention.
Touching any one of these mystical orbs will send your ears into an atonal spin. Sometimes, the sounds get stuck and the only way out of the growing sound is to touch the navigation icon in the upper left corner of the screen to go Home again.
I can’t wait until more musicians have the brave imagination of Björk to take their music to the next immersive level. We like experiencing the familiar against the new — and Björk never stops surprising our minds with the strength of her massive, musical, and visionary, talents.
Even more brilliant she or someone with her organization had the foresight to make the initial app free and usable with additional songs available for purchase — so you know in advance the kind of experience you will get without having an up front cost.
Yes, I have great admiration for her as an artist. I understand she’s working on a different plane than most of us.
I remember when I bought the full iPad album app that some people were complaining about having to “pay twice” — and I guess the early adopters who paid per song were upset they weren’t auto-upgrade to the full price App for free when it was released.
There is a brilliant exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art right now all about Björk and the making of her seven albums (including this one) — it’s a walking exhibit with semi-guided audio through a special listening device that looks remarkably like an iPhone 🙂 At the end of the exhibit they allow you to play with the app. Definitely worth the visit if you haven’t been — you can see her various outfits from the years as well as handwritten lyrics from her life’s works.
Thanks for the tip! She’s definitely an interesting Artist with her own, specific, aesthetic — and she doesn’t really seem to care if anyone follows her or not.