Heads Up: Biophilia

Apps, crackles and pop – Björk presents the science of sound


What are we talking about?


Björk's three-week residency at the Manchester International Festival, which sees her exploring music, science and technology.

The series of six multimedia live shows – the premiere of material from her new studio album – will be accompanied by digital content, including the world's first app album.

Elevator Pitch

The Science of Sound: Björk blasts off.

Prime Movers

Alex Poots is the festival's director; he's reportedly been trying to tempt Björk to the festival for a decade.

The Stars

Björk, the Icelandic singer-songwriter, will be joined by a "unique group of musical collaborators" – no news on who exactly yet – and an Icelandic female choir. Filmmaker Michel Gondry also seems to be involved...

The Early Buzz

A first Biophilia song, with a video by Gondry, has been released already; it's an instrumental piece to accompany the iPad Solar System app. Their collaboration was blogged about over a year ago, and film website The Playlist managed to winkle out of Gondry that it was "a very ambitious project, a sort of scientific musical". Björk herself has said on her new website that it's about "both zooming out, like the planets, but also zooming into the atoms. And in that way, aesthetically sympathising with sound and how sounds move and the physics of sound, and how notes in a room behave ... it's kind of more similar to how planets and microscopic things work."

Insider Knowledge

The show will feature a selection of weird and wonderful bespoke instruments: a digitally controlled pipe organ, a gamelan-celeste hybrid, a pin barrel harp and even a 30-ft pendulum that will, apparently, create musical patterns by harnessing the earth's gravitational pull, no less.

It's great that...

The show will also feature fan-pleasing hits from her back catalogue.

It's a shame that...

While obviously inventive with form and ambitious in scope, all the apps and techno-wizardry run the risk of being simply a faddy distraction.

Hit Potential

Impossible to tell, but it's certain to be interesting at the very least. It's her first show in the UK in over three years, so fans are likely to have quite the appetite for some live music.

The Details

Biophilia is at Campfield Market Hall, Manchester, M3 4FH, (mif.co.uk; björk.com), 30 June to 16 Jul.

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