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Published September 02 2011

Morast: A look at future of music

There are prophets walking among us.

Warren Buffett can see the financial future.

Usain Bolt runs so fast he seems to forecast a more fleet tomorrow.

And Bjork has figured out the future of music promotion and digital art.

Yes, Bjork.

I know what you’re thinking. Bjork? Girl’s crazy.

Well, yeah. For much of the ’90s, the Icelandic pop star was an oracle of odd who babbled bizarre ideas through the blissful face of a person tapped into a plane of existence few of us can comprehend.

She filtered the unique perspective through songs that sounded like they were crafted by a forest nymph who discovered a synthesizer. Her music videos played like twisted fairy tales among a field of apathetic longhairs in flannel. And her fashion choices included wearing a white swan dress – complete with egg – to an awards show red carpet because, well, she’s Bjork.

But as popular culture advanced and embraced the abstractions of cultural weirdness, Bjork became less important. Her art wasn’t as shocking among a new generation of irreverence that included cartoons talking about a world-dominating Trapper Keeper or pop stars with butt implants.

But while we were obsessed with people who wear meat for clothing, Bjork was making music and becoming a prophetic wizard.

The proof is in the free phone/tablet computer app Biophilia, a mesmerizing bit of digital art that promotes her upcoming album of the same name, to be released on Sept. 27, and makes me think this is the future of music.

Stark and simple, yet bold and complex, the app opens a universe of sorts that plays like an interactive array of star constellations set against the black of space.

With the touch screen, you can zoom into and navigate through Biophilia’s shapes and “stars” while being serenaded with a changing collection of sonics – from eerie distortions of Bjork’s singing voice to clamoring chimes.

Tap on various words, such as “virus” or “solstice,” set inside the “solar system,” and you’re taken to pages that describe apps – some available, some coming – that add to and complement the Biophilia experience. Some make music while you text, merging the worlds of written communication and music; others play songs in a visual display, giving sight to Bjork’s music.

It’s very cool. It’s quite artistic. And I think it is the latest link in the evolution of visual music promotion, one that has grown from posters to album art to music videos. Add in the interactivity of our socialized media, and this app binds fans to the art of their hero like never before.

It also works. I haven’t cared about Bjork since she was a blind cutie in the 2000 film “Dancer in the Dark.” Yet, because of this Biophilia app, I’ve Googled “Bjork” more times in the past week than I have in the past decade, and I’m thinking of her as an artistic visionary.

If I were in a band, I wouldn’t worry about making videos. I’d create an app that captures the aesthetics of my music, and I’d even consider doing that instead of making a traditional album. Then I’d promote the hell out of it on Facebook.

Crazy? Only if you’re bound to the past.


Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518