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We were lucky enough to get a special preview of Bjork’s new live show at Manchester’s International Festival last night. Over the last 3 years Bjork has been beavering away in her Icelandic volcano on new all-encompassing multimedia concept album – which has the potential to change the way we buy albums forever.

Her new live show is one small part of a much bigger picture. “Biophilla” is a new multimedia experiment comprising of a studio album, iPad app, new website, custom made musical instruments, new live show and documentary.

It’s a bold and exciting experiment, which represents just a glimpse of what could be the future for an ailing music industry. The premise is to add a compelling new layer of interactivity and depth to an artist’s album.

One of the centre pieces to Biophilla is the app. It’s a collection of ten smaller apps, one for each song. Each app has its own theme (in connection with its corresponding song) the app itself is represented as a galaxy of stars – with each star representing a song. Tap the song and you’re transported into new layers of content. For each of the 10 tracks – you get a game based on the songs scientific and the music subject matter, a music animation of the song, an animated score, lyrics and academic essay. All of them combine to add a new layer of interactivity as you explore the creative process Bjork and her team has been on with the new album.

Bjork’s chosen subject matter for the new concept album is the Universe. It’s a music exploration of the relationships between music, nature and technology – from atomic to cosmic.

One important part of the jigsaw is the new live show, which got its world premier last night – the 2000-strong crowd were treated to live a performance which took the best of art, theatrical performance and music to a new level.

Hosted at the Manchester Science and Industry museum, 2000 adoring fans were treated to an unusual space for a music show; an old disused market space. The stage was centred in the space and flanked 360 degrees by the awaiting crowd for real intimate experience.

The performance started with one of the most important aspects of the Universe: Energy. A a large faraday cage was slowly hoisted down from the ceiling that housed a two tesla coils – the noise from electricity was controlled via midi-interface to make the main hook for her opening track ‘ThunderBolt’

The entire performance last around 90 minutes as she went through all 10 tracks from her new album as well as some fan favourites – taking it to 20 songs in total. Musically it had everything – the best of electronica with her new single ‘Crystalline’ to avant-guard dubstep influences with ‘Hollow’ – throughout the performance the adoring crowd was treated to the delights of the 24-piece Icelandic female Choir, a 10-foot pendulum harp, in which the swinging motion of the long arms plucks the strings as the she sung ‘Solistice’, a midi-controlled pipe organ and a celeste which was re-fitted with bronze gamelan bars – for a more caustic sound.

Bjork’s new show was a total success. It had everything from emotional moments of melancholy to high-octane waves energy. If you get a chance to see the show at Manchester’s International Festival make sure you do – it is well worth the £44 asking price. The crowd was left blown away at what they had just witnessed. And this was the case for us.  When you go to see an act that you not a massive fan of and come out the other side totally converted – you know you seen something truly special.

Lead single “Crystalline” out now on iTunes.

Biophillia app suite for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch to debut in July on One Little Indian.

Manchester International Festival 2011 will run from Thursday 30 June – Sunday 17 July 2011.


Andrew Rafter

Andrew Rafter is the editor and founder of Harder Blogger Faster.