2 juin 2013

Hollywood Palladium

Los Angeles, Etats-Unis
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Bjork explores nature in ’Biophilia’ at the Palladium

Björk began her Sunday night concert at the Hollywood Palladium with a definition of terms, and as usual for Iceland’s foremost sonic adventurer, those definitions were about as broad as possible.

“Welcome to ’Biophilia,’” said the British broadcaster David Attenborough in a recorded voiceover, “the love for nature in all her manifestations.” Later, Attenborough described music as “sound harnessed by human beings, delivered with generosity and emotion.”

“Biophilia” is Björk’s latest burst of ambition, released in 2011 as an album of songs along with a system of interactive apps for the iPad and iPhone. It’s also the live show she’s slowly touring around the world, starting two years ago at the Manchester International Festival in England. Sunday’s performance was the first of three at the Palladium, which will be repeated Wednesday and Saturday before a concert June 11 at the Hollywood Bowl.

As Attenborough’s narration suggested, Björk’s subject throughout these interconnected pieces (there are also educational workshops for children, including one held Sunday at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art) is the wild and contradictory sprawl of the universe’s many wonders. There’s the beauty and order depicted in tunes with titles such as “Moon” and “Solstice” but also the terror and mystery of “Dark Matter” and “Thunderbolt.”

At the Palladium, that complexity was further reflected in an in-the-round stage crammed with eye-popping components.

There were her human collaborators, including two multi-instrumentalists, avant-jazz harpist Zeena Parkins and an 18-member women’s choir clothed in shimmering garments that split the difference between a tunic and a garbage bag.

And there were machines such as a remote-controlled pipe organ, the gigantic set of wooden pendulums known as the gravity harp and eight video screens arranged over the heads of the performers. It was enough that Björk’s wig – a frizzy, multicolored mass reminiscent of a rainbow snow cone – didn’t especially demand much of your attention. (The singer barred media from photographing Sunday’s show.)

Yet as beautifully as she transformed a historic Hollywood dance hall into a futuristic idyll, Björk’s music only occasionally proved as powerful. Songs from “Biophilia” offered handsome textures and sturdy singing – with Björk the singing is always sturdy – but few arresting beats or melodies to anchor them. Often she and the choir sounded like they were simply warming up, moving through private vocal exercises meant to tighten their densely braided harmonies.

“I shuffle around the tectonic plates,” Björk sang in “Mutual Core,” and the lyric unintentionally caught some of the aimlessness in the high-minded music.

She was far more effective in older songs she interspersed among the new material : “Hidden Place” and “Pagan Poetry,” spectral ballads from 2001’s “Vespertine” ; “Where Is the Line,” in which Manu Delago’s juddering electronic percussion scraped against the choir’s sustained flutter ; and “Declare Independence,” a fuzzy digital-punk track that turned the stage into a mosh pit of fabric and hair.

During her encore Björk pointed to a Tesla coil in a cage behind Delago’s drum set and said she’d been trying to “squeeze our new toy into more songs.” Then she did a stripped-down version of her mid-’90s semi-hit “Possibly Maybe” with jolts of electricity for the track’s bass line. Here, finally, Björk was inspiring the kind of natural wonder that “Biophilia” sets out to capture.

source : Los Angeles Times

Björk Brings Performance Art to the Palladium

With a high-concept piece that would make Lady Gaga green with envy, the Icelandic musician re-imagines the traditional stage show in support of recent album, "Biophilia."

Björk brought her Biophilia tour to the Hollywood Palladium on Sunday night, the first of four tour stops in Los Angeles. But the performance, presented in the round on a low stage built in the center of the venue’s floor, felt less like a concert and more like an avant-guard theatre production.

Accompanied by 18 members of an Icelandic female choir, Björk emerged after a lengthy male voiceover introduction explaining the premise behind her recent album Biophilia, which this trek objectively supports. The singer, clad in a massive rainbow wig that would make Nicki Minaj jealous, moved around the open stage as the set progressed, using the choir as both backup singers and a dancers in a primal choreographed art piece that was as much about presentation as it was about the songs themselves.
Björk’s musicians, a harpist, a DJ and a percussionist, were illuminated by spotlights that shifted between each song depending on what sonics the track required, but all were overshadowed by the eventual introduction of unconventional instruments that required no player. During “Mutual Core,” a grinding number off Biophilia, four massive wooden pendulums attached to two pillars began to swing, but it wasn’t until the more hushed “Solstice” that it became clear that each pendulum, as it twists past the pillars, plucks a string to create a melody.

The presence of video screens, which rolled imagery that reflected the subject matter and tone of each song, and the stage choreography, best embodied by the deeply compelling performance of “Crystalline,” transformed the show into performance art. The center piece : the presentation of the stage itself, encircled by fans so that no space was left blank behind the musicians. It generated a drastically different energy than the straightforward concert, with the sounds moving throughout the room in new and interesting ways. The overall effect, amplified by Björk herself, is what one imagines Lady Gaga wishes she could create, a truly innovative experience that recasts a singer’s music into an aesthetically interesting context that broadcasts and shifts its overarching meaning.
To wit : during the encore, a three song continuation of the dynamic performance, Björk noted “We’ve been trying to squeeze this new toy into more songs,” gesturing toward a giant wire cage standing one side of the stage. As the closer surged from “Possibly Maybe” to the overwhelming buoyance of “Declare Independence,” it became clear that this “toy” is a mechanism that generates two vertical bolts of purple electricity that create a crackling sound as they connect.
The music itself was so integrated and connected to this visual and spatial experience that it almost didn’t matter which songs Björk selected for the set list. Although older numbers like “Pagan Poetry” and “Jóga” drew shrieks of “I love you, Björk !” from the audience, the focus on Biophilia felt right, particularly since that album has been a platform for multimedia exploration on the part of the singer and produced its own app and the Biophilia Education Program, which is a traveling series of interactive workshops.

The singer said very little throughout the night, only chirping “Thank you” after various songs, but expression came through her surging, operatic vocals, which drove the music even as lightening crackled in a cage and pendulums swung.
Björk has translated her strange and occasionally difficult music into an overwhelmingly interesting stage set-up that presents a unique twist on what a pop show can be. True, Björk worries less — or not at all — about what the audience wants and creates only a reflection of her own artistic sensibility, but what she does provide is a fully immersive experience, leaving no real sense of loss for the lack of so-called hits on the set list.

source : Hollywood Reporter

Björk transformed the Palladium last night

In both a geographic and metaphysical sense, everything about it was different. For the first of Björk’s four appearances in Los Angeles, a stage was set up in the middle of the floor. Every corner had a musical set up : a harp, marimbas, electronic drumkit, programming gear. Four 10-foot pendulum harps were installed on one corner, and on another side, a conical screen rose up to the ceiling, housing twin musical Tesla coils.

Double-sided jumbotrons were arranged in a halo above the stage, screening images from Björk’s educational app suite of music (and album), Biophilia. Seats snaked around the set up, making for a helluva tight show — intimate yet visceral, cerebral yet wholly organic.

The performance was less of a concert and more of an art piece. After an introduction by David Attenborough (who narrated scenes throughout the show), a chorus of voices rose up as if the heavens were opening.

Then Björk walked onto the stage.

In the tweaked-out, crystal light of the Palladium, it seemed like Björk came out singing "Thunderbolt" in a mini dress made of plastic bubble wrap, except that the bubbles were boob-sized. (Later, when I looked at pictures, I found that her dress was more organic-looking, the bubbles patterned more after sea shells than silicone implants.)

Her massive technicolor afro bounced around as she fist-pumped through her songs, and she jumped up and down on platform glitter booties. She may have looked like a mushroom from a Nintendo game, but she owned that stage like a goddess.

Mostly what I thought of when Björk commanded the stage was her voice, and how it always made the hairs on the back of my neck rise and went directly to my gut. With a 21-piece female choir backing her up (apparently the beautiful girls with voices like angels were imported from Iceland), the power of her singing was even more consequential ; every guttural sound, every ragged note was made more significant.

With the Biophilia educational app (which is part of the Reykjavik official curriculum), Björk wanted to give children "the opportunity to explore creativity through music, science, nature and new technology," which "is vital to the understanding and practice of contemporary art."

It seemed like she wanted the audience of last night’s show the same experience. It didn’t matter that most of her fans had carried over from the Debut days ; for Björk, the marriage of pop music and art is purposeful, and as well thought-out as her song list. (Last night, older hits such as "Jóga" and "Pagan Poetry" were snuck in the set list in the perfect spots — it whetted die-hard fans’ appetite for the familiar — just enough — within the Biophilia-centric set).

Throughout the show, screens above the stage showed images such as dancing DNA strands and cell mitosis and gummi worms sneaking into a dead seal’s eye sockets and stars and the universe all that shit that you think about when you’re trying not to think (because you’re in yoga class trying to concentrate on breathe in corpse pose, or you’re walking alone at night).

All these images, while obvious, didn’t seem pretentious. In Björk’s music, there is creation, the goddess, life and death. These are all big things that she wants us to think about, and Biophilia is the context by which she wants us to judge and deliberate her music on. The fact that last night’s show was possibly the most sublime concert experience of my life is proof that the Björk equation (wherein metaphysics + music - psychedelic drugs = beauty) does, indeed, work.

Critical Bias : I have been 20 feet away from Björk twice in my life, and both times I wept like a baby.

The Crowd : Lots of gay guys in costumes and artsy chicks.

Overheard In The Crowd : "Maybe at the Hollywood Bowl she’ll sing ’Big Time Sensuality.’’"

Random Notebook Dump : I want to watch the Hollywood Bowl show to see how different it will be.

source : Ocweekly


01. Óskasteinar
02. Thunderbolt
03. Moon
04. Crystalline
05. Hollow
06. Dark Matter
07. Hidden Place
08. Mouth’s Cradle
09. Joga
10. Virus
11. Generous Palmstroke
12. Where Is the Line ?
13. Pagan Poetry
14. Mutual Core
15. Cosmogony
16. Solstice
17. Possibly Maybe
18. Náttúra
19. Declare Independence

sur scène

  • Graduale Nobili
  • Manu Delago
  • Matt Robertson
  • Zeena Parkins


habillée par

  • Iris van Herpen