‘Who is that creature?’ asked my dad after seeing the Icelandic performer in her usual outlandish garb for the first time on SNL a while back. A description I thought was rather accurate coming from one of the most un-pop-cultured people I know (he once thought Whitney Houston was Oprah). Indeed ‘creature’ seems apt considering the otherworldliness of Björk, at 45-years-old she barely looks like she’s hit puberty, her genre-defying back catalogue is simply unfathomable and her sartorial choices range from the family Anatidae to collaborations with Jeremy Scott and the late visionary Alexander McQueen.
So for her latest project and staying true to her penchant for the avant-garde – Björk poses the question ‘Where do music, nature and technology meet?’ Ask any little monster and they’ll be sure to answer: ‘The Haus of Gaga,’ but, of course, to those who prefer the transcendent to the topiary, the answer lies in Bjork’s 7th studio concept album Biophilia. The project is said to be inspired by the grandeur of the solar system and will set out to explore the infinite expanse of the universe, from planetary systems to atomic structure.
How you ask? Well, much like director James Cameron designing new gizmos to bring his colonized Na’vi to life, the ‘robusto’ soprano will make use of a range of specially conceived and crafted instruments, among them a bespoke digitally-controlled pipe organ; a 30 foot pendulum that harnesses the earth’s gravitational pull to create musical patterns; a bespoke gamelan-celeste hybrid; and a one-off extraordinary pin barrel harp.
Additionally, an award-winning Icelandic choir (or a hydra-Bjork, if you like) as well as frequent collaborator auteur Michel Gondry will lend their expertise to forge the multimedia spectacle that will be Biophilia. As the artist herself explains, ‘for me the project is a continuation of Volta, and where as Volta is more about anthropology, this is kind of without the humans. Both swimming out, like the planets, but also swimming in, into the atoms. And, in that way aesthetically, sympathizing with sound and how sounds move and the physics of sound. And how notes in a room behave; how they bounce off walls and between objects and is kind of more similar to how planets and microscopic things work.’
There are also reports of her working directly with Apple to build apps which accompany the live show and forthcoming album. A song composed by Björk already appears on the Solar System iPad app. The project has also been called the world’s first app album and will certainly give Radiohead a run for their fan-filtered money in the ‘innovative- album- distribution’ department.
Biophilia will be unveiled and recorded at the Manchester International Festival as part of a three-week residency starting on June 30th. The experience will comprise six intimate shows in the Campfield Market Hall. No word yet on the album’s actual release date, but latter 2011 is circulating on the Net and you can keep up with the development of the project on www.bjork.com. To hear what the enigmatic lady has to say about the album, click HERE.