The Friday Morning Listen: Bjork – Biophilia (2011)

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So here’s the thing: Have I ever bought a CD and/or box set just because of the cool packaging? Hmmm … probably not, though I do own more an a few “special” sets: the laser cut version of Split Enz’ True Colours, Devo’s Are We Not Men in pink marble vinyl, Lou Reed’s Take No Prisoners in red vinyl. I even had the Cheech & Chong record with the giant rolling paper. There are a few collectors’ sets that I’ve come to acquire, but those don’t count because they were sent to me for review. The collection of surf music in the box shaped like a cooler that you’d take the beach? Pretty neat, but I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

The article linked in the previous paragraph wonders if the packaging helps the sales numbers. The consensus view seems to be that if the runs are limited, demand will be created. I can see that. I mean, I found out about the special Tom Waits release that had him doing music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band: the music coming on 78rpm vinyl, with custom recording player. Yes, had I known at the right time, I would have bought one. Or at least tried to.

With this week’s release of Bjork’s Biophilia, this custom release idea has been tossed about. Here Bjork is taking previous special releases one (if not several) steps forward, offering iPad applications that can be employed as windows into the music. OK, it’s not my kind of thing. And no, I don’t plan on buying it. Still, the idea is one that might hint at music’s future. Sure, part of me is thinking “What the hell? Why can’t people just listen to music? They need to be coaxed into the situation?” On the other hand, and as much as I’m not into animations and games, I can see how this kind of thing might bring more hungry ears to the mix. Oh, and don’t get me started on the Biophilia ultimate edition. (Because yeah, I sorta want one)

Much like Wilco’s The Whole Love, it’s going to take me a while to get my intellectual arms wrapped around Bjork’s Biophilia. There’s a lot going on here, much of it not at all obvious.I’ve only read descriptions of Bjork’s iPad app, but I’d love to see it at some point. We’ll see if it’s a game-changer.

I feel a Biophilia/Are We Not Men? marathon coming on.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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