After more than a year’s stealthy work–from Iceland to Brooklyn, London, Paris, and Cupertino, not necessarily in order of glamour–it’s been exciting to see Björk’s Biophilia App Album reach the world. Today, Biophilia’s second interactive single, Virus, is available from within the Biophilia mother app. If you don’t have Biophilia, which is free, download it now from the iTunes App Storeand watch the preview below:
Virus tells a story of a virus’ love for a cell – so deep that she kills him. To hear the whole song, you must lose the game of helping him to survive. Also included is an instrument mode letting you play the viruses as sounds from Björk’s hybrid Gamelan-Celeste (“Gameleste”), and Manu Delago’s incredible Hang playing.
Viruses attack, nuclei sing, DNA mass, and cells become instruments in Virus
Eventually we’ll post some in-depth behind-the-scenes information about the project, however, for now there’s a novella’s worth of great articles and interviews – below is a selection.
Interviews with Scott Snibbe on the Biophilia App Album:
Billboard Cover Story, Jason Lipshutz, July 22, 2011
Billboard.biz features a longer interview with Scott Snibbe on the future of apps and music after Björk’s Biophilia.
“This is like the birth of cinema. It’s an extremely exciting moment for musicians, for artists, and I think this project is a nice step towards fully leveraging the medium with one of the world’s great artists to see what you can pull off when you get one of the world’s greatest musicians and some of the world’s top developers in interactivity to work together. And I think you’ll see a lot more of it. I know the artists want to embrace it, and if the record companies and labels can find a way to make this work financially and contractually for the artists, I think everyone will really thrive.”
Wired News, Eliot Van Buskirk, July 26, 2011
A two-part interview on the nitty gritty details of Björk’s Biophilia, the future of interactivity and music on the iPad and how sheet music was the app of the 19th century:
“in some reviews of Biophilia, people said, ‘Wow, I haven’t had this experience in 20 years. Before CDs came out, I’d buy an album and hold the 12-inch cover in my hand, sitting cross-legged on the floor while I listened to the music, read the liner notes, and looked at the pictures.’ People used to have this very tactile, multimedia experience when they bought an album.
But with the digitization of music, we’ve lost that special moment. You can think of the app as, finally, that chance to unwrap the box and have a personal, intimate experience again with music. It might be the case that people spend a lot of time with the app when it first comes out [as they did with album covers] and then perhaps they’ll move on to purely enjoying the music after that. But we’ll really have to wait and see.”
The best interviews with Björk about Biophilia:
“I tried to have each song as emotionally different as possible. [The song] ‘DNA’ is about rhythm, but I also wanted it to be about the emotional, my relationship with my ancestors. That was just as important, to prove science nerds wrong, to unite the scientific and the emotional. ‘Moon’ is very melancholic and about rebirth and the lunar cycles but it’s also just about the math of a full moon. [I wanted the music to] weave seamlessly into science, a natural element, and musicology. Our times seem to be so much about redefining where we are physical and where we’re not. For me, it is really exciting to take the cutting edge technology and take it as far as it can get virtually, use it to describe/control the musicology or the behavior of raw natural elements, and then plug it with a sound source which is the most acoustic one there is — like gamelan and pipe organ. So you get the extremes: Very virtual and very physical. In that way you shift the physicality.”
Violently Appy, Rod Stanley, Dazed and Confused, August, 2011
“The future might not be the shiny utopia of self-lacing moonboots we were once promised, but Björk believes that evolving technology is about to reunite humanity with the natural world. Yes, the 21st century is going to be fun, she has decided.”
“‘I didn’t intend it to go so big,’ Bjork said with rueful pride in an interview before the performance. ‘It’s the way most complex project I’ve ever done. There’s been like 500,000 million e-mails and meetings.’ But from their beginnings, the songs on ‘Biophilia’ had a grand ambition: to unify music, nature (as described by science) and technology.”
How Björk’s ‘Biophilia’ album fuses music with iPad apps, Charlie Burton, Wired UK, August, 2011
“The app model is one she hopes to use long-term. ‘I have a feeling that for many years I won’t have to tear things up by the roots again. I can [release] songs in my own time and I have an iPad app I can write from,’ she says. For now, apps will also replace her music videos – and in the future she may stop producing physical CDs, to free herself from the production deadlines they involve.”
The Whole World In Her Hands: Björk Interviewed, Luke Turner, The Quietus, July 22, 2011
“Unlike so many of the new formats and futures of music we’ve been promised in the years since the business took a dive down the dumper, Biophilia genuinely does feel radical, futurist. Even more exciting, it feels as if Bjork isn’t just breaking new ground in music, but the world of apps too. It seems certain that Biophilia won’t, unlike many apps downloaded, be used only once. This is of course not to mention the educational aspect, something that emerges all the more strongly during our three hours sat in her living room, overlooking the North Atlantic, newspaper cuttings about the recent Grimsvotn eruption on the table. On the plane home a few hours later, I can’t help but think that Bjork reminds me of a 21st Century William Blake, a visionary fascinated by the potential of science and the wonder of the natural world, a master in the pioneering disciplines of the age.”
Björk on Biophilia and her Debt to UK Dance Music, Liam Allen, BBC News, July 28, 2011
“The abum was inspired by touchscreen devices which preceded the iPad, enabling musicians to play sounds by pressing the screen. ’Because I don’t play the piano or guitar, and usually I’ve always written my music when I am just walking outside, I’ve finally found something that’s appealing to me as an accompaniment,’ she says, ‘I can just scrabble with my fingers – it’s a breakthrough for me.’”