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bjork

I did not take this picture, I found it on the interweb. After some research I believe it is from PurplePR Music.

When they announced Bjork’s Biophlia for the Manchester International Festival we already had the tickets to LADOMA, our plane tickets, and some of the trip planned out. The only show we could fit in was on the day we arrived, a short 4 hours after landing. Again Morgan surprised me by saying he would go, not that I wouldn’t have gone by myself.

Biophilia, Bjork’s most recent album (review to come), grew into a multimedia project. Including a series of shows, a book, a documentary and a series of i-pad apps. The brass tacks of the project is to expose the melding of nature and technology to create music. She designed several instruments, stuff like gravity harps and a gameleste. And as if to prove the amorphous nature of her music, Bjork delayed the release date of the album so that she could change the sound so that it reflected the new life the music took on during the festival shows.

The show was at Campfield Market Hall, inside was a medium-sized square stage in the middle flanked by four sets of bleachers. The instruments were set up along the perimeter, one corner for the drum kit (Manu Delago) and one corner for Matt Robertson‘s electronics (including a reactable!). There was a ring of screens over the stage playing DNA/virus like visuals to a playlist of Bjork songs that wouldn’t be heard live that night. We found a spot on the bleachers closest to the drum kit and waited as the hall filled. When the lights went dark the crowd exploded. Bjork and the 24 piece choir filled about half the stage. With the theater in the round format you end up looking at a lot of back, that would be my only complaint about the show. Bjork and the choir did seem to have some loose choreography and did their best to work the crowd.  Bjork sounded great in the venue, the slight echo of the market hall worked for her. The choir added that special etherial element that Bjork’s recordings often have. All the songs of Biophilia were played, some featuring the custom instruments and visuals that, I’m learning now, related to the i-pad app for each song. I was in love from the beginning with the singing tesla coil during “Thunderbolt”. The gravity harp used during “Solstice” was a dramatic way to end the main set. The set also had well curated selection of older songs, “Where Is The Line” and “Nattura” I will never forget.

Setlist:
Thunderbolt
Moon
Crystalline
Hollow
Dark Matter
Hidden Place
Mouth’s’Cradle
Isobel
Virus
Jóga
Sacrifice
Sonnets/Unrealities
Where is the line
Mutual Core
Cosmogony
Solstice
-encore
One Day
Hyperballad
Náttúra

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Voltaic_Sleeve

another recorded live experience i recommend is bjork’s voltaic. a beautifully packaged four disc collection. one disc is a collection of remixes off of the marvelous volta, the second is a live recording from the olympic studios in london, the third is all the volta videos, and the fourth (and best) is a dvd of two concerts from the medulla and volta tours. for as much as i love bjork, the remixes off her singles never did anything for me. there are some gems here though, especially the xxxchange remix of “earth intruders”, the matthew herbert mix of “declare independence”, and the two modeselektor “dull flame of desire” remixes. the rest of them are alright, nothing to write home about though. as for the videos, almost all of her videos are amazing (her worst video and song, which isn’t on this disc), so that disc is well worth it. the real treasure of the collection is the live material. this is bjork first official live audio release, and i couldn’t be happier.  the volta tour was a spectacular site to behold and my favorite of her tours that i’ve seen. while the audio disc is not a true concert recording, it is the live versions though, and they pack just as much energy. the dvd, which morgan and i went to see in theaters a couple of weeks back, captures the live experience. and makes you fall in love with bjork all over again. my only complaint about the collection is that it is too short, i wish we got all the songs played on the volta tour.

with antony being on a mini symphonic tour right now, the antony world is all a twitter. this week also brought two new antony related videos.

first is a video called fallen shadows produced for prada’s fall collection. a stunning song called “a great white ocean” is used for the soundtrack. the song may or may not be on the new antony and the johnsons album called the crying light. we have to wait till january to find out though.

then the video for antony’s duet with bjork “dull flame of desire”, from bjork’s fantastic album volta. “dull flame” is just a masterpiece of a song. every time i hear it i fall in love again. i am not sure how i feel about the video, i wish there were more actual antony and bjork, and they cut two minutes from the song.