Björk: Biophilia Live
From a mind unlike any other, Biophilia Live chronicles the multidimensional concert centered on the eighth studio album of avant-garde Icelandic artist Björk. Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland, unique voices in their own right, film Björk live in performance and punctuate her music with evocative animation and science and nature footage. The infinitely creative journey presents a culmination of work that represents one of the most original musical endeavors of a generation.
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★★★★ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd
Bjork is without doubt my favourite musical artist. I might not always love every album but her inquisitiveness and boundless experimentation make her truly one of a kind. Biophilia Live brings to a close her latest tour in glorious fashion. Opening with David Attenborough’s narration introducing the show this is no ordinary concert video as Bjork and her directors, Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland, create a rich audiovisual experience blending nature, music and technology to striking effect.
★★★★★ review by elaina sevrina on Letterboxd
everyone who says biophilia is björk's worst album can catch these mf hands
★★★★ review by Michael Scott on Letterboxd
If I had any worries that Peter Strickland's hand on Björk's concert film, Biophilia Live, was going to tend towards the subtle, they were resolutely swept away as I waited outside the cinema for the previous screening to finish. A steady stream of punters pushed through the double doors, setting free a barrage of screeching beats, as they stumbled dazedly out of the film, beaten into submission. One woman, jumped immediately onto her mobile to complain to a friend. Too much, she said.
A couple of minutes later, remainder of the audience spewed out, a moustachioed, flannel-clad rabble with ear to ear grins, and I knew I was in safe hands.
The concert, the last date of the Icelandic artist's three year long residency tour for her nature inspired eight album, Biophilia, was filmed in front of a sold out audience in London's Alexandra Palace. Introduced by David Attenborough, backed by an all female choir and played on everything from instrumentised tesla coils to an enormous pendulum harp, Biophilia Live is, in a word, "tres-Björk".
Of course, anyone who's followed the singer's post-Sugarcubes career, knows implicitly that it was never going to anything but. As I said, the only real unknown in the mix was the impact of the director, and Björk's pick here (well, her second choice after a version with Michel Gondry fell through) is perfectly matched. Strickland, whose sound-centric homage to Giallo, Berberian Sound Studio, relied heavily on cross fades, uses similar techniques to capture the event in all its eccentricity, ably assisted by editor and co-director, Nick Fenton.
Start to finish, Björk's performance is marked by its range, its clarity and its clear-hearted affection for musical invention. Highlights include the literally electric version of 'Thunderbolts', pumped out using actual lightning, a beautifully re-set version of 'Possibly Maybe' and an absolutely thunderous performance of 'Mutual Core', which deafens with absolute gusto only matched by the volcanic imagery thrown up on the screens that surround the stage.
To cap off the immersive concert experience, Biophilia Live comes complete with encore, beginning with an intimate hang-led version of 'One Day' and continuing with a no holes barred rendition of 'Declare Independence', the one that proved too much for some in the previous audience. It's not a song I've ever cared much for, anti-colonialist sentiment aside, but it sure does get the crowd pumping. It is also gives a more complete geography of the venue and the impressive scale of some of the created instruments. Now, when I picture myself there, I have so much more to go on.
The show closes with an emotional reunion between Björk and Henry Dagg's enormous "Sharpsichord" for 'Sacrifice'. It's a triumphant final bow for a consummate musical innovator and collaborator.
★★★★ review by Nine Lives on Letterboxd
Björk is such a beautiful, strange creature I thank the universe she exists.
★★★★ review by Martin Jensen on Letterboxd
Totally mad but quite possibly brilliant.
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