Björk: Biophilia Live
Thursday 9th October, 6pm – Odeon West End 2
Friday 10th October, 9pm – Curzon Soho
Futuristic, technological, organic: Biophilia Live boasts a planetarium-like performance of pioneering songs and psychedelic imagery as innovative Icelandic artist Björk performs songs from her eighth album in this concert documentary.
Aiming to produce each of the songs in her album to promote a key idea, such as arpeggios or tempo, Björk coalesced this with lyrics pertaining to scientific themes. Conjoined with evocative visuals and an introductory narration from David Attenborough, Biophilia Live lingers somewhere between a science lesson and a music masterclass.
“We’re on the brink of a revolution that will reunite humans with nature through new technological innovations” advises Attenborough, his voice soothing against a backdrop of ecological images. “Until we get there, enjoy Biophillia.” At this point, the film metamorphoses into a colourful Björk concert. Arranged in the centre is a stage adorned with screens projecting images of microbes, mushrooms and meteorites: the instruments on display are as unconventional as Björk who, sporting an ethereal red Afro wig and organic-looking bodysuit, body-pops to beats and phonemes as if an organic enigma herself, surrounded by a 14-woman choir cloaked in shimmering blue and gold.
Director of photography Brett Turnbullwith is careful to ensure that the prominent imagery does not generally overwhelm, though he occasionally allows it to exceed its stage context. In Crystalline incandescent crystallite structures are momentarily superimposed over Björk’s performance of the song: she invoked crystals as a symbol of the track’s structural complexity. And in a rendition of her 1995 single Isobel, fungi visuals mushroom across the screen.
Björk’s connection to her material is intense and infectious to watch. Her voice soars trance-like, swinging into raw, rhythmic cadence; switching between powerhouse and childlike. Contrastingly, her interaction with the audience is minimal, each song punctuated by an endearing “thank you” and little more.
Directed by Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton, Biophilia Live feels more cinematic than most films, much to do with it being promoted as part of a multimedia enterprise intended as “a semi-educational project for children using sound, texts and visuals”. And Björk is reported to have educated herself on everything from astrophysics to cultural theory, focusing on the intersection of science and sounds in order to bring this project together. Weird and wonderful, Björk: Biophilia Live is certainly an experience to behold, but be warned, only if you are willing to meet her ingenuity and creativity with an open mind. If not, you should keep your hard-earned money for a more mainstream concert.
Björk: Biophilia Live is released in the UK on 9th October 2014.
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Watch the trailer for Björk: Biophilia Live here: