There are no two ways about it, the music industry has struggled to cope with the digital revolution. Record labels are still trying to come to terms with lacking CD sales and are only just coming to terms with technological progressions that have changed the way the world views and consumes music forever. However, there are some artists who have managed to overcome the rest of the industries inept attempts to keep up with the world around them. Welcome to centre stage, Björk.
Regardless of whether you like the music she produces, there’s no denying that Björk is one of the most innovative musicians of her generation. Previous projects have included creating albums based entirely on vocal material and collaborations with some of the worlds greatest songwriters and electronic producers, so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when she announced that her latest offering, Biophilia, was to be created primarily using iPad apps.
Having used her own touchscreen devices to perform live remixes of tracks on tour in 2007 and being very impressed by the musical experience, she was very keen to try out the iPad upon its release in 2010. Feeling bound by her standard songwriting methods, she felt convinced that with the right software, a touchscreen device could enable her to create advanced music impulsively, without the technology getting in the way of her creativity. She was able to convert her music sequencing software for the iPad and then began searching through the App Store for music creation tools.
One such app, Soundrop, uses lines, curves and shapes to create musical patterns and algorithms that can be created intuitively at your fingertips without the need to spend hours inputing data in sequencing software.
She wanted to centre each track around a specific musical and ultimately natural theme, for example, counterpoint or tempo, for example the track ‘Virus’ is focussed upon multiplying phrases. Originally designed to function within a film/art installation collaboration with Michel Gondry, after the release of the iPad it soon became apparent that the most suitable way to release and experience the music was in the form of 10 educational and interactive apps, each constructed by leading visual artists and programmers.
Designed to represent the scientific and natural ideas behind each track, the experience would help the listener engage with the representations made within the music.
The apps are available though a ‘master app’, consisting of a maze of constellations that you are able to navigate through to find each individual app, the music swirling and changing as you zoom and slide through the starry sky.
Once you’ve reached them, each app is a world of its own, with stunning almost game-like features backed by the mesmerising music, and although the music may not be to everyone’s taste, you have to admire how exquisitely she has channelled her innovative attitude to combine the latest technology, the natural world and her music.
The endeavour of artists such as Björk set a precedent for other artists to continually think creatively and encourages the arts industries to try and keep up with their technological counterparts. Björk intends to continue using the iPad to create her music, encouraged by the freedom to create so effortlessly wherever in the world she is and views the app as one of the best ways to distribute her music without the restriction of production costs and timescales, the app album is something we may all be seeing a lot more of in the future.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – simply post a comment below! What do you think of the app? Is this a creative new medium for artistic expression, or a fad?