thoughts on Biophilia

Last week, Bjork released her free Biophilia app – more or less a host application from which you can then purchase the individual tracks of her new album of the same name. Each Biophilia “song” is quite unique as it contains both a standard audio track as well as an app/game you can interact with.

I downloaded Biophilia and became quite entranced by the virtual galaxy that serves as home for the album’s songs. The app opens by launching you into the middle of Bjork’s Biophilia constellation – the visuals are stark, but moody, thanks to the unsettling background music that reminds me of a Kubrick-esque space saga. I spent some time simply rotating and flying through the star field with a few simple finger swipes – the visuals here are really compelling.

Each song from the album appears as a star that you can zoom into and then click on, whereupon you are directed to a screen that describes what that song’s app will be once it is available for purchase. I did purchase Crystalline ($1.99) to find out more and I must say I was impressed – it’s a simple enough game – you tilt your phone to catch crystals as you travel through a Tron-inspired series of tunnels (second screengrab above.) The song isn’t Bjork’s best, but I enjoyed it, and thought it really enhanced the visuals from the game.

I think the concept behind Biophilia is brilliant – create a rich experience for the listener by tying each song to an interactive element that relates to a larger theme. Bjork has always been a visionary musically, and it’s now obvious that she wants to reinvent the concept of the traditional album for the digital age. For Bjork, records are not just a collection of music, but a launching pad for a unique experience driven by the personality of the artist. I can only hope this new album concept serves as inspiration for the rest of the industry.

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