Pitchfork has a great interview with Björk about her innovative and interactive album, Biophilia.

Björk’s forthcoming Biophilia is an album. It’s also an iPad app suite featuring interactive programs for each of its 10 songs… and a treatise on the natural world that involves everything from immense planets to tiny atoms… and a traveling exhibition that showcases one-of-a-kind instruments including a 10-foot bass-playing pendulum… and it’s also an educational tool that aims to offer a modern take on music education, replacing notation and by-the-book theory with instinct and creativity. Biophilia— due out later this year on One Little Indian/Nonesuch— is many things.

While many are questioning the commercial and artistic validity of albums– or even music itself– in the age of the cloud, Björk is using the wild west environment to her advantage while suggesting a different way forward. The most ambitious aspect of Biophilia is its app suite– 10 separate applications created by programmers including Theo Gray (The Elements: The Visual Exploration), high-school student Max Weisel (Soundrop), and medical animators– that add multiple dimensions to each song.

Every app features an interactive game where users can manipulate the song in different ways while playing. For example, the game for “Virus” shows viruses attacking healthy cells, with the diseased microbes also corresponding with a sound made by a specially converted celeste/gamelan hybrid. And the app for new single “Crystalline” has the user building their own song structure as they tap through multi-colored tunnels.

The apps also feature two types of animated musical notation: one that translates notes on a standard staff and another that’s more like a tricked-out iTunes visualization, with certain shapes and colors representing different instruments and tones. This part of the app corresponds with Björk’s desire to demystify traditional musicology and “to show children that musicology is spatial, physical” and to “reconnect musical education through technology with forms in nature,” according to a brief the singer sent to the apps’ developers last summer…

(read the rest here)

The video (above) is  a 2-minute brief montage of the making of the ‘Gameleste’. Björk commissioned several custom instruments for the shows surrounding the release of ‘Biophilia’ – one is a hybrid gamelan celeste; the original steel bars of a vintage orchestral celeste were replaced with bronze tonebars hand-made by UK cymbalsmith Matt Nolan, and the instrument was rebuilt and MIDIfied by Iceland’s top organ-maker, Björgvin Tòmasson.

Biophilia's Virus app by Scott Snibbe Studio

Crystalline

 (Hat tip to Alejandra L. for the lead!)


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