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Bjork rethinks album distribution with new iPad app



Long an innovator in her field, Bjork has once again re-thunk traditional album distribution with her first new album in 4 years, Biophilla. She originally envisioned her album as a house she’d take over with a room for each song, which would then tour the world. That was impractical, but with the launch of the iPad it allowed her to recreate her vision in app form. What would have been the house is now the “mother” app, which has been released in the iTunes store for free and will eventually house all 10 apps, one for each song. The overall art direction was by M/M who has also done work with Madonna, Kanye West, Yohji Yamamoto and many others.

When you first open the app you are taken on a tour of the 3D rendered cosmos and the voice of David Attenborough explains the concepts of the app. (shown above) You can navigate the universe by swiping the screen with your fingers, passing the planets named after each of the songs. As you pass by the planets you can hear snippets from the song.

Each song will be released as an in-app purchase within the mother app, and accompanies a game or visual depiction of the song. The app for the song ‘Virus’ features a close-up study of cells being attacked by a virus. According to one of the developers Scott Snibble, it represents “A kind of love story between a virus and a cell. And of course the virus loves the cell so much that it destroys it.” The interactive game challenges the user to halt the attack of the virus, but if you succeed the music will stop. The user must let the virus take its course in order to hear the entire song.

Partly recorded on an iPad, the app has also been mastered to optimize the sound depending on how you are listening to it. Playing it on the built-in iPad speakers drops out some of the low end, but when plugged into headphones, the tracks adjust to give you the best sound. Taking cues from video game designers, the developers have included some “easter egg” features that you might find if you explore deeply.

Not the first app-album to be released (the first is Bluebrain's 'The National Mall', a location-aware album that is available in no other form), but you can see bjork pushing the limits of what has been done and how to distribute music in the future. Grab the free download from the iTunes store here, and explore Bjork’s universe.

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