Björk yesterday released her album Biophilia, which was preempted by an iPad app released over the summer that combined her music with motion graphics, animation and games. The app was initially released with five tracks from the album, but has been updated with all 11 tracks to coinicide the album launch.
The app allows you to modify each song to some degree, but stops short of allowing you to fully remix the tracks. Björk describes what the apps offers in terms of play, rather than making your own music.
"With each song, there are certain things you can play with, and certain things you can’t," she says. "For example, in Crystalline you can change the structure by making up your own order of crystals. But you cannot change anything else. In Thunderbolt, you can change the bassline. You are like this lightning-playing bass player. But the rest of the song doesn’t change. So each song has a different natural element and a different musical thing you can play with."
As with the album, Björk says that the idea for the app came from a desire to produce something different from other forms of electronic music.
"I wanted to lift electronic music off its connection with 4/4 grids," she says. "I felt now that we had touchscreens, we could make the grid of a song not four-on-the-floor, but as organic as possible. That’s why one song is run by a pendulum, another by the lunar cycle, one has a bassline which is a [bolt of] lightning, and so on.
"It felt like technology was finally ready and sophisticated enough to communicate with nature. So, after writing 10 different programs for 10 different songs based on 10 different elements from nature, it seemed silly to go through the same routes in the distribution of the music ... and the whole thing kinda grew from there."
Björk also says that she's been inspired by the iterative development of tablets apps and other software developers.
"I have been tempted to do what I’m watching the app-builders do," she says. "They keep saying they want to add updates later. I might do the same thing."
These quotes were supplied to us by digital music site eMusic, which was 'taken over' by Bjork yesterday.