Björk Unveils "Biophilia" Live Show in NYC, Showcasing the "Scientific Art of Music, and How Limitless It Can Be," Says NPR
Björk launched her month-long, ten-show Biophilia residency in New York City with a performance Friday night at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York City’s only hands-on science and technology museum. Five more shows at the unique venue in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, are ahead, including one tonight, with four shows to follow at Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan later this month and into March.
The intimate shows are performed in the round, with no audience member more than a few yards from the stage, and feature a set of custom-made musical instruments, the award-winning Icelandic female choir Graduale Nobili, musicians Manu Delago and Zeena Parkins, and visuals from the Biophilia Apps with app developer Max Weisel performing on stage. In addition to the live performances, Björk will collaborate with the New York Hall of Science on a three-week-long Biophilia education series featuring interactive science and music workshops for middle-school children.
"Björk told a journalist recently that she'd always wanted to be a music teacher," recounts NPR's Will Hermes. "And so she was, in her own dazzling style, during the first show of a six-night residency at the New York Hall of Science."
Even with all of the fantastical, high-tech instruments developed for the project, "the music's core was still that most lo-tech of instruments, the human voice," says Hermes in a review of the show for NPR's All Songs Considered blog, describing Björk as "the sun around which all revolved ... Using little besides a simple microphone, she was a physics class on two legs, sculpting vowels into fanciful shapes, and vividly animating Biophilia's song metaphors, which connect the human heart to the universe beyond."
The New York Biophilia shows, Hermes concludes, are " a lesson in the scientific art of music, and how limitless it can be."
Read the complete review at npr.org.
Rolling Stone's David Fricke finds the Hall of Science to be a fitting venue for this special show, "effective and moving, even more immersive than the Biophilia show I saw in Reykjavik last fall. Surrounded by a future-now production of exotic invented instruments ... Björk created a dazzling compact world of heated passions and excited science heightened by the tall black space overhead and an outer ring of darkness that seemed to gently press the in-the-round audience (under 700) against the tiny stage, almost into the show."
Fricke describes the album that inspired the show as "a record about harmony and turmoil, Björk's equation of human passions with the glory, peace and violence found in nature." He too notes that even within the context of the surroundings and the custom-made instruments created for the project, "her voice is still the most powerful instrument and teaching gift in her reach. Unearthly in its range and force, yet absolutely natural and frank in its ardor and hope, it is the vital human tissue connecting everything else."
Read the review at rollingstone.com.
Fuse reviewer William Goodman describes the set as "jaw-dropping" and the choice of venue "a genius stroke of appropriateness," explaining that "Bjork’s new album, Biophilia, is her most imaginative and ambitious yet, marrying science, music and technology into a hands-on educational experience."
Echoing his fellow reviewers sentiments, Goodman, after praising the venue for its "surprisingly pristine" sound, finds: "Most impressive, though, was Bjork’s voice—she gets older, but those pipes sound just the same."
It was a concert the reviewer would not soon forget. "When it was over," he concludes, "it was evident that one of those special, unforgettable concert moments had just occurred."
Read the complete review at fuse.tv.
To see the schedule for the remaining Biophilia shows, head to nonesuch.com/on-tour.