The Return of Björk

It would appear that great music apps are like buses: you wait ages for one to arrive and then two come along at once. Just a few weeks ago we wrote about the new Radio Soulwax app by 2manydjs and now Björk has popped up with an app for her new album Biophilia.

It would appear that great music apps are like buses: you wait ages for one to arrive and then two come along at once. Just a few weeks ago we wrote about the new Radio Soulwax app by 2manydjs and now Björk has popped up with an app for her new album Biophilia, which features a voiceover from Sir David Attenborough no less. And for those of you not interested in all this app stuff, here too is her latest video, directed by Michel Gondry…

Gondry’s video, shown above, is for new single Crystalline. It is a mixture of typically lo-fi Gondry tricks with footage of Björk as a swirling goddess of the skies. While it is entertaining, more intriguing is Björk’s Biophilia app, which was created in collaboration with interactive artist and app developer Scott Snibbe, and the musician’s long-time design collaborators M/M (Paris). The app opens with a kind of manifesto on nature, music and technology, written by Björk and the Icelandic poet and author, Sjón, and narrated by Attenborough. The film below shows this intro.

Once the intro has finished, users can interact with the cosmos shown by using the standard Apple stroking and pinching techniques. There is also a menu that allows access to the individual songs.

Each song has an interactive ‘game’ or animation attached that can be downloaded. The app, which is free to download, comes with one song, Cosmogong, but after that you have to pay for each song to get access to the game/video (along with more info on the track), which is rather a neat way of getting people to pay for music again. So far Crystalline is the only extra song that’s been released. It comes with a game which allows you to zoom around a graphic universe (stills shown above and below), where you can unlock tunnels and collect crystals to form unique shapes, which you can then email to your friends. The aesthetic is simple, almost old-fashioned, but effective.

Like the Radio Soulwax app, Biophilia makes good use of the unique aspects of the iPad and iPhone, particularly their interactive elements. It again places visuals at the forefront of the music experience, providing yet more proof of the creative possibilities that technology is opening up for artists and musicians.

Not that Björk is entirely turning her back on the joy of analogue, however. In the shop on her website, you can pre-order a copy of Biophilia: The Ultimate Edition. For a cool £500, you will receive a lacquered and silkscreened oak-hinged lid case, containing the ‘Biophilia Manual’ along with 10 chrome-plated tuning forks, silkscreened on one face in 10 different colours, stamped at the back, and presented in a flocked tray. Each fork is adjusted to the tone of a Biophilia track, covering a complete octave in a non-conventional scale. The case also comes with an individual numbered certificate, and to get your hands on one, you must place an order by August 12. For more info, visit bjork.com, or to download the Biophilia app via iTunes, click here.

 

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