Björk's crystalline and new personal experience with [mobile] music
Biophilia - Björk's app-based music album - is a curious experience. Among the different app, the one that caught my eyes is certainly "Crystalline" (which corresponds to the first single off the new album) made by Scott Snibbe. From a musical standpoint, the song is played with Gameleste, an iPad-controllable mix of Gamelan Celeste hybrid that makes sweet xylophone organ box sounds. On top of which she sings the following lyrics:
"underneath our feet, crystals growing like plants/ listen how they grow/ I’m blinded by the light/ listen how they grow/ in the core of the earth/ listen how they grow/ crystalline internal nebula/ crystalline/ rocks growing slow more/ crystalline/ I conquer claustrophobia/ crystalline/ and demand the light."
Now, about the app, it's a bit like a REZ/Katamari Damacy cross-over. It's basically like a rail shooter except that you don't kill targeted enemies. Instead, your avatar, a tiny crystal, travel along a predetermined path through mines in which you can collect other kinds of crystal. You just have to tilt the iOS device to catch them:
By aggregating new material, basically unlock new colorful tunnels in which you can progress. Each of them correspond to different music modules. The result is a quite immersive experience that allow listeners to discover their own music arrangements.
As discussed on evolver.fm:
" The “Crystalline” app is the way Björk sees music in her head. I think she has a certain type ofsynesthesia, so that when she’s listening — especially to pop music, she said — she actually sees a tunnel like that. The number of sides of the tunnel changes depending on the rhythms and the music. So that app is about music structure, crystals, obviously, and this game-like interaction to move through the structures."
See also his point about the kind of experience they created:
"or sure, people are still going to be listening to recorded music tracks while they’re doing something else (...) But with the digitization of music, we’ve lost that special moment. You can think of the app as, finally, that chance to unwrap the box and have a personal, intimate experience again with music. It might be the case that people spend a lot of time with the app when it first comes out [as they did with album covers] and then perhaps they’ll move on to purely enjoying the music after that. But we’ll really have to wait and see."
Why do I blog this? Playing with iOS apps on Saturday morning and reflecting about them. Beyond the role of apps in music album, I find interesting to observe the sort of original experience one can create when crossing various components such as a tilting sensors, a tiny display, video game archetypes, headphones and good music.