The Daily App: Make Your Own Bjork Song
Create your own celestial melody for the season, with a left-field holiday offering from pop singer Bjork.
Bjork's last record, Biophilia, is as much a multimedia experiment as it was a collection of songs. In addition to a traditional album, partly recorded on an iPad, the Icelandic pop queen has released a suite of 10 apps, letting fans interact and explore her music in unprecedented ways.
The world's "first app album" let fans explore the abstract themes of science and love and even remix their own versions of the songs, creating a truly 21st century experience of pop music in an industry still grappling with fighting off Bit Torrent pirates.
Now one of these apps, "Bjork: Solstice," is gussied up for the holidays, letting you create your own strange, wonderful Christmas song that is as close to Bjork's pagan techno-fairy stylings as you can get without moving to Reykjavik yourself.
What's the App?
Bjork's version of a holiday app, developed by Second Wind in collaboration with the singer, doesn't include visions of sugar plums, cute red-nosed reindeers, or a big man with a capacious belly and a sackful of presents, and she's definitely not singing a version of "Silent Night" or "Frosty the Snowman."
Bjork's celebration of the winter holidays focuses on the solstice itself, the longest night of the year, and the song at the heart of the app celebrates the light found in even the darkest nights of the soul, rendered in Bjork's swooping, near-ecstatic vocals and crystalline music-box melody.
You can just listen to Bjork's original version of "Solstice" on the app, but even more fun, you can create your own version, using the harp-like sounds and textures of the music itself. The app starts with a stripped-down, elegantly bare representation of a solar system of planets revolving around a sun. "Orbits" of planets loop around the sun, playing loops of music box-like melodies as they swirl around the center.
Tapping on the sun changes its color, which changes the note and tone of the instrument you are working with. With a tap of a finger, you can create more planets and orbits with the chosen tone -- creating orbits close to the sun creates faster rhythms, while more distant planets create slower ones.
Another gesture sends them swirling at different speeds, creating different rhythms as well. All the planets revolving around the sun together create an interlocking of tones and rhythms, resulting in a music box-like song.
The holiday aspect comes from a clever animation in the app, which transforms the solar system into a Christmas tree, and the planets become snowflake ornaments swirling around the branches -- all while still making music. You can send the song as an e-card, creating a charming, eccentric music creation to friends and family to celebrate the solstice -- and to show off your newfound electronic musical chops.
The app, normally $2 in Apple's App Store, is free for a limited time for iOS devices.
You'll Want It If --
If you're a fan of Bjork's idiosyncratic electronic pop, the app is obviously a must-have, since her music is the clear inspiration at the center of the app. But even if you're not a fan, the app will inspire anyone who's ever wanted to make music but can't play traditional instruments like guitar, drums or piano.
What's fun about Bjork: Solstice is how it makes music-making accessible to anyone -- which is another secondary mission of the vocalist, who trained at Iceland's national music conservatory as a young child and created an educational series using her apps to engage youth music schools on using technology in music.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
Obviously, if you hate Bjork's music, this app is not for you. But if you're still in the mood for a music-making app with some hipster pedigree, the Kling Klang Machine app inspired by Kraftwerk might appeal, since it lets you generate electronic music of your own making for 24 hours.
And while the Solstice app is true to Bjork's visual aesthetic in its elegance, sophistication and minimalism -- thanks to her long-time collaboration with renowned Parisian design house M/M -- it is not often user-friendly. It takes some time to find your way around the app, though the exploration is part of the app's adventure. Still, a brief how-to or even FAQ could help the less technologically adroit or easily frustrated.
Another limitation is that recipients of the e-cards you make with your songs must have the app to open your musical creation -- a sad limitation to an app associated with a creative dreamer with an expansive sense of imagination. ♦
Categories: Entertainment | The Daily App