Two Visions of Instruments from Björk: An App with MIDI, a Gamelan-Celeste with MIDI

Sometimes, images and video can say far more than words, and it’s best to stand back rather than ramble on. (Cough, ahem.) From Björk this year has come two visions of how to make new instruments. The Biophilia software for iOS is an interactive rendition of the album. As apps, you have the curious separation of tracks into individual application icons, available as separate purchases or a bundle. But the effect is one we’ve traced for a while: the music becomes non-linear and interactive, blurring the line between recording as reproduction and dynamic instruments that can transform what you hear. …

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Björk’s Engineer-Music Director Damian Taylor Shares Thoughts on Music, Free Max/MSP Patch

Montreal-based Damian Taylor, music director and engineer for Björk, is the subject of an epic interview on cycling74.com, spanning music, life in Montreal, working with Björk and what makes her special, and what patching in Max/MSP can mean compositionally and creatively. Damian has some especially nice reflections on what having an open-ended music environment can mean. If you’re a musician or composer, Max is an amazing tool that will really open up a completely different way of thinking about music. If you’ve been working on sequencers, looking at time lines, working on tape, or reading off musical scores, then without …

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Björk and Dirty Projectors, Inspired by a Mountain and Whales, Back to Vocal Basics

The live session that inspired the album, in turn inspired by some whales. Photo by Ryan Muir, courtesy Motormouth. Digital music is of course created the moment you commit a recording to a file, so it’s fitting to me that we can take musical inspiration from acoustic sources as well as electronic. And one of the album releases I’m most thrilled by this summer is the collaboration between Björk and the eclectic band Dirty Projectors, whose African rhythm-influenced “Bitte Orca” was to me one of the fresher sounds in recent years. For the digital-only release “Mount Wittenberg Orca,” the coupling …

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Bjork's New Music Video Does 3D the Old-Fashioned Way: With Glasses

Bjork lays on the spectacle in a new music video for “Wanderlust,” and the results are quite gorgeous, even in advance of a promised 3D version. If you had the misfortune of trying to watch it in Yahoo’s world-premiere, horribly-overcompressed video early this week, give it another go. (I’m glad I waited to post this rather than have to show that! Yikes!) As of press time, Motionographer has a high-quality QuickTime file so you can watch this in all its glory. The results are a real multimedia extravaganza. The painterly wonderland in the surrounding world is clever digital graphics and …

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Bjork’s New Music Video Does 3D the Old-Fashioned Way: With Glasses

Bjork lays on the spectacle in a new music video for “Wanderlust,” and the results are quite gorgeous, even in advance of a promised 3D version. If you had the misfortune of trying to watch it in Yahoo’s world-premiere, horribly-overcompressed video early this week, give it another go. (I’m glad I waited to post this rather than have to show that! Yikes!) As of press time, Motionographer has a high-quality QuickTime file so you can watch this in all its glory. The results are a real multimedia extravaganza. The painterly wonderland in the surrounding world is clever digital graphics and …

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Interactive Table as Synth, Via New, Better Bjork Tour Vids; Microsoft Surface Snickering

There’s a simple problem: sound is invisible, and sound synthesis concepts don’t have any physical reality. Knobs, faders, patch cords, keyboards, infrared sensors, touchpads, and the like all work quite nicely for synthesizing sounds. But take a closer look at Bjork’s use of the reacTable, an interactive multimedia interface that uses a camera to track the movements of blocks on a surface. They really are using it to make sounds, those sounds really are visualized in a nice new way (watch the waveforms connecting the blocks), and while the result is some swoopy synthy sounds, the interface does make making …

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Bjork + ReacTable and Lemur = Tangible Interactive Musical Fun

Being an international music superstar means you can tour with whatever fun toys you like. In the case of Bjork’s new Volta tour, that means the JazzMutant Lemur multi-touch interface and, even more fun, the fantastic reacTable, a research project involving projection and multiple objects for a tangible interactive table experience! CDM reader Mike Cohen smuggled this video out of a recent Bjork performance: It really does work nicely in action, in terms of expressing to the audience what the performer is doing, and making nice eye candy, to boot. More details on Bjork’s futuristic touring rig: multitouched bjork [Byron …

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Embracing Simplicity: Bjork Hangs with Legendary Minimalists, Timbaland

Every time Bjork drifts in a musical direction you don’t love, just wait. Her latest collaboration, Earth Intruders, with Timbaland producing, sounds utterly fantastic. Listen closely, and it’s also deeply disturbing, a bit like the violent lyrics of the early-century Italian Futurists (check them out if you don’t know them), but set in a terrifying, real now. Timbaland aside (and the crisp combinations of synths and drums might redeem him if you’re still mad about that chiptune thing), Bjork’s vocal performance is center-stage. All of this bodes well for the new album coming this summer. More press coverage and links …

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