Pitchfork's interview with Björk regarding her forthcoming album Biophilia reveals that it's an album that is also “an iPad app suite featuring interactive programs
for each of its 10 songs.”
At the same time, it's 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
30-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.”
All that sounds well and good (actually, most of it sounds amazing) but I don't own an iPad.
Why should I be deprived of the full-on Björk experience just because I am too cheap (read: poor) to buy a $500 tablet?
I want to know what's in that app suite, dammit! Apparently it's “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,” and every app has a 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 church organ.
And the app for new single “Crystalline” has the user building their own
song structure as they tap through multi-colored tunnels.
In the story, Bjork said she and her team
“basically built the instruments out of sticks and elastic and gaff tape.
I basically wrote all the songs on touch screens.”
The big question is, how did these apps come into fruition? The concept behind the album and the technology surrounding it was initially conceived as a way for Bjork to perform without having to leave Iceland. Mid-project, she was contacted by the National Geographic
to be on their label. (Best quote of the article: “I was like, 'Wow, I want to be label mates with
the sharks and lemurs!') When that didn't push through, she was asked to be National Geographic's music explorer in
residence and was tasked to work on a 3D movie for the album with Michel Gondry directing. That, too got aborted mid-project. “At the same time, the iPad came out. And we just got so excited
about the first apps for it and thought, “This is exactly what we've
been doing for two years– maybe the natural home for this project is
not a film or a house, but this.”
I'm already getting depressed thinking about all the fun everyone will have playing with these apps without me. Will this be the straw that will lead me back to Apple?