According to Wikipedia Biophelia means this “love of life or living systems.” “It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital” again according to Wikipedia.
Biophilia is Bjork’s eighth album and what an album. From what I can gather parts of it were recorded on an iPad. It has taken four years for the project to surface and as with all Bjork albums there is a lot to be going on with, both in the making of the album and the concept of the whole accompanying project.
The album is promoted as the world’s first “app album”. It’s a multimedia extravaganza that apart from Apple iPad apps, includes the internet although how this relates to her live show I don’t know. I haven’t been lucky enough to see it yet.
This is an extract from Bjorks website where she describes what the album is all about.
“For me the project is a continuation of volta and whereas volta is more about anthropology, this is kind of without humans and both zooming out like the planets but also zooming in into the atoms and in that way aesthetically sympathising with sound and how sound moves and physics of sound and how notes in a room behave, how they bounce off walls and between objects and its kind of more similar to how planets and microscopic things work”.
bjork.com audio snippet, 2011
There is always a beauty in Bjorks work and the simplest sounding tune plus her vocal style can become almost an orchestral masterpiece.
Is she a singer in the pop world? Well I guess she is but to me her avant garde tendencies leave her pretty squarely at times in that more transient art world where anything can be experimented with.
She crosses the boundaries of folk, classical, electronic dance, jazz etc. It must be very liberating for her to be an artist that is accepted in these different worlds and you have to admire her forward thinking and freshness.
This album involved Bjork, Apple and National Geographic plus a multitude of other helpers. The album apparently is meant to be an educational experience as much as a musical one once you involve yourself with the apps.
The whole project involved so many people (David Attenborough for example) and reviewing this album as a piece of music is only part of the story. She enlisted scientists and musical enthusiasts that made unusual and new instruments for her, a large musical pendulum called a Gravity Harp and a Tesla Coil are just examples plus other very interesting from what I’ve researched instruments. Will they be used again, I hope so.
Bjork’s Gameleste – a bespoke Gamelan-Celeste hybrid can be viewed from this site.
The opening track “Moon” starts with a plucking sample, almost childlike in its simplicity, for me a folk element runs through this, is this one of the iPad recordings? certainly could be,
“Cosmogony” is a stand out track with its delicate vocal from Bjork and a lovely choir like backing, the intimacy with which the melody is handled here is typical of what Bjork is known for.
Hollow has a very strong orchestral feel to it, percussion builds and then drops, an adventurous attempt and one that like the whole album is pulled off with phonetic style.
Virus, I reckon has the Gameleste playing. This is a simple song with subtle builds, the song is delicate and at time masterful in its approach. It’s simplicity in structure evokes another world, another time, another place.
How many other acts will start to put out multimedia driven music albums as complex as Bjork’s project? Well only time will tell and not every artists style will lend itself to this form and how much does it all cost to deliver a project such as this? I would love to know some of the details.
Bjorks Biophilia is a wonderful example of her work, go listen and better still get hold of the iPad apps, as long as you have an iPad that is.