Björk, one of the most original musicians of nowadays, has released a new album—this time an interactive one. The album called ‘Biophilia’ and the ambitious project deals with themes of nature, science and humanity’s relationships encouraging listeners to explore it via iPhone and iPad apps. This is the first-ever musical album with such apps.
Using it, listeners can literally manipulate Björk’s music with various games, remix it and further understand the scientific and musical principles behind each song. To release the ‘scientific’ album, Björk heavily researched astrophysics, string theory, neurology, biology and other areas where science and music meet.
Though the apps offer great entertainment for users, the songs don’t become secondary. Isolated from the iPad, Biophilia’s songs sound minimalist using a specific set of non-traditional instruments that support Björk’s singing like a backbone.
According to the NPR, Björk employed the iPad’s touchscreen interface to create many of the glitchy digital sounds and skittering, chopped-up beats. Björk said that it helped her reimagine her own natural tendencies. «All my songs end up being 83 BPM, which is the speed I walk. I felt stuck. I was writing most of my songs in 4/4: verse, chorus, verse, chorus.»
The title of the album came to Björk after she read a book by neurologist Oliver Sachs about the mind’s empathy for music. So, she decided to call it Biophilia, meaning a kind of empathy with nature. Song titles like ‘Solstice,’ ‘Virus’ and ‘Crystalline’ and the lyrics also touch on processes in nature—for instance, how crystals grow or how virus spread.
The main app is free to download. Tapping on it, users see a black background with white, glowing ‘stars’. Each song has its own star that can be purchased for $1.99 each from the iTunes Store. Each one has essays about music and science, and each interacts with its song in a different way.
For example, In ‘Virus,’ Björk imagines a virus like a natural femme fatale and creates a story about love so strong it kills the object of its affection—living cells. The app that works like a game in which pink cells are attacked by green viruses was designed by Scott Snibbe—he also created some other app designs and coordinated the efforts of the other designers.
«You can try to save the cell,» Snibbe says, «but if you succeed in saving the cell the song stops progressing».
As the full Biophilia app suite is available in UK starting today (in the US tomorrow), at 3 pm Björk will be online at the Gardian to ask users questions.