The epic Bjork Biophilia experience was detailed in full today, and the rumors proved to be spot on: Biophilia includes a live show, studio album, a new web site, a documentary, and a collection of iPad apps. The whole thing seems to have Bjork on a creative bender that we haven't seen since the late 90's early 2000's.
STREAM: Bjork - Biophilia (full album)
This all seems to have happened since Bjork became free and clear of any ties to a recording label after a tour in 2008.
VIDEO: Bjork - "Crystalline"
STREAM: Björk: "Crystalline"
"That was really exciting. It's sort of where Radiohead were a few years ago. I could do whatever I wanted," she said when speaking to Rolling Stone. "I had been using similar methods for a while [before this album]," she adds. "Maybe I had gotten lazy. I really had to break out of old habits."
The Biophilia experience will have central themes of science, earth, and space; it seems to be at the forefront of the new interactive music cool, with the combination of digital music and interactive experiences on the rise.
"Björk's put herself way at the forefront here by saying, 'We'll release this album and these apps at the same time and they're all part of the same story.' The app is an expression of the music, the story and the idea," Scott Snibbe told The Guardian. Bjork put him in charge of the creation of the Biophilia app ecosystem, and it even reaches out to the experience of games.
The series of Biophilia apps looks unique and innovative. There's a separate app for each song, with each one available individually. These will also be controlled by a larger "mother app," but it's unclear at this point how this will integrate with each individual app. The Virus app is already known to be an interactive game. The individual apps are a complex weaving of a number of elements: an interactive game, a musical animation, an animated score, lyrics, and an academic essay. Bjork put together a team of developers to build these, and it includes designers, animators, and leading experts in coders and encryption experts. Scott Snibe is one of the developers.
The Biophilia app idea started out with the transition from a Biophilia movie she was working with Michel Gondry to a more interactive experience when the movie thing didn't happen. When the iPad arrived on the scene a few years ago, she knew this was the direction to take.
"... but at the same time, the iPad came out. And we just got so excited about the first apps for it and thought, this is exactly what we've been doing for two years -- maybe the natural home for this project is not a film or a house, but this," she tells Ryan Dombal in an interview with Pitchfork.
Then she brought together all sorts of rival app makers, went to dinner at a restaurant in Iceland and started cranking out ideas based on Bjork's original concept.
The whole thing is beginning to happen this week at the Manchester International Festival, with the live show happening on a series of dates. Check out the Biophilia video above for a taste of the show. The whole Biophilia tour has a unique spin to it: it's a global thing with six week residencies in eight different cities. If you want to see Biophilia live, you will have to come to Bjork instead of her coming to you. she will perform two shows a week and the entire Biophilia tour will last for three years.
Again, Bjork put together a team of people to create the instruments for her to play: an English inventor, an Icelandic organ builder and a graduate of MIT Media Lab, according to the press release.
The album was mixed by both Bjork and Damian Taylor, has 10 songs, and the the iTunes Crystalline single release happened this week. Director Michel Gondry is doing up the video for the song. The music seems to have been derived by Bjork's infatuation with a series of touch screen instruments she created with engineer Damian Taylor.
Although the Biophilia web site still seems to be in pre-boot mode, we can see the interactive 3D galaxy and some announcements. The site was developed in HTML 5 and is specifically targeted towards the Chrome and Safari browsers. The press release says that this will be the Biophilia hub, and it looks like there's a lot of potential to work the interactive angle here with integration with the apps, streaming video, and live webcasts. The Biophilia documentary could find a home here.
Speaking of which, the Biophilia documentary is an overview of the entire process Bjork went through as she created the Biophilia experience. It's being created by Pulse Films and is still being created, as it includes footage from this week's Manchester International Festival shows.