Transmedia + Music

Thunderbolt: A Taste of Björk’s Biophilia Tour

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With her Biophilia music and app albums officially released, Björk is now focusing on the next platform of her transmedia campaign: live performance. She is committed to touring through 2014 in short stints, taking up weeks-long residencies in at least eight cities around the globe.

First debuted in Manchester, UK, she is currently presenting the tour in her mother country, Iceland. As the rest of the world waits for the tour’s arrival, she released a video yesterday of a live performance of the song “Thunderbolt.”

Having read descriptions of the custom-built instruments for this tour, I was excited to see the musical Tesla coils on stage to bring out the meaning of the piece. The song makes not only multiple references to thunderstorms and lightning, but repeated use of the word “miracle”: the miracle of discovery and invention. The beauty of science and nature runs throughout Biophilia,  and is evident in Björk’s confession that, as a child, “my rock star was David Attenborough.”

The performance is also reminiscent of the immersion of the app album. Attenborough’s narration introduces the song, and the audience is made to experience the very same scientific property that inspired Björk’s writing of the piece. It is even stated in the album’s press release of wanting to evoke “an atmosphere similar to being inside the app itself.” This weaving back and forth, from the album to the apps to the live tour, creates a history of experience that emotionally binds the listener tighter and tighter to the music.

With other instruments such as 10-foot “pendulum harps” yet to be seen, I am very much looking forward to seeing the full performance and experiencing her reinterpretation of Biophilia.

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