Björk has a relationship with technology that rivals that of Joe Satriani with his guitar: The two cannot exist without each other. It has always seemed as though Björk was waiting for technology to catch up with her, and when Apple launched its iPad, she finally had a place to experiment.
Considering the first listen anyone had of the new album came from a solar system eBook released last year, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that this is the direction in which Björk is heading. We've seen plenty of experimentation between iOS and musicians before, but Björk's plan to release her new album, Biophilia simultaneously as a traditional record and a set of iPad apps may very well be the most ambitious of all the projects.
That's because it's not going to be just a single app with her album in it and a music player -- instead, each song will comprise a smaller micro-app that will have a different function. The one example that's been released so far is for the song "Virus," where the user will be able to play a game involving, ahem, a virus as the song plays. Curiously, if you succeed at stopping the virus from taking over, the song will stop -- meaning even Björk haters will have plenty to enjoy from playing the game. After all, what better reward for winning than having the song stop?
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We've seen albums created on iPads and even a couple that existed as apps, but this is the first time we've seen something with this much funding and creativity behind it. Chances are, Biophilia is going to be polished beyond belief. Musicians have been trying to create "experiences" outside the actual music since the first records, but if there's anyone who can succeed, it's Björk. The plan involves not just the app, but also the tour, the music, the music videos, classes for schoolchildren (yes, seriously) -- everything working together to create an entire multimedia experience.
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Regardless of whether you actually own an iPad (the record has not been announced for iPhone yet), the premise behind this is interesting enough that it's hard to dismiss. Love her or hate her, Björk has never lacked for innovation. And what she's offering here is an album with multiple tiers and points of entry.
While it will most certainly only appeal to die-hard Björk fans, it paves the way for everyone else to follow. Hopefully it'll work better than Apple's failed iTunes LP program, which sought to add a similar aesthetic to premium iTunes music downloads. With any luck, the album in all its forms will be a success, causing other bands to follow suit. Maybe we'll finally see Yes's Fragile re-released as an app where you get to wander around Roger Dean's landscapes.
No release date has been set yet for Biophilia, but considering that Björk plans on debuting the songs and the rest of album on June 30 at the Manchester International Festival, it would make sense that we'd see something around that time.