New York Post

Pixie dust in Queens

Iceland’s eccentric musical pixie, Bjork, bridges the science of the natural world with the magic of music in her latest project, “Biophilia,” that made its US concert debut in Queens on Friday.
It was the first of six performances at the New York Hall of Science’s auditorium, a towering, chapel-like structure totally constructed of deep blue stained-glass blocks. In that majestic setting, the singer took on the role of high priestess of sound, with a 20-woman choir of barefooted vestal vocalists behind her. The 20 created layered, sometimes wordless harmonies that floated Bjorks lyrics, which focused on the natural world — from viruses to celestial movements to the inner space of the ocean.

The unique setting, the mixture of female voices and the oddball instrumentation of harp, percussion and electronics lent the affair an ancient and sacred quality despite the occasionally heavy-handed use of programmed synthesizer. Adding to that was the pre-recorded profundities from the BBC’s world-famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who introduced many of the tunes. In the dim glow of the high hall, 600 Bjork fans, who circled the round stage, were reminded by Attenborough’s concert was more performance art than concert rock, as Bjork and company painted with music and dance movements., spooky baritone that “Sound is a part of nature.’’ He added : “Listen, learn and create.”

To be honest, the concert was gratefully light in the teaching department — there are better sources than Bjork to explain the clockwork of nature. Where the show excelled was in creating mood. Bjork frantically worked the entire circular stage under a wig that appeared to be woven of rusty steel-wool. She wore a blue plastic dress adorned with inflatable hip and breast bumpers. Her outfit that was every bit as ridiculous and outrageous as her famous swan-gown and stood in stark contrast to the ceremonial hooded robes that her women’s chorus donned.

The concert was more performance art than concert rock, as Bjork and company painted with music and dance movements. In the song “Moon,” there were cascading harp/xylophone arpeggios set in time with lunar phases displayed on video screens. In “Crystalline,” the drumming rhythms were synched to staccato vocals that seemed to reflect how crystals are formed and there was even a tune about theory of continental drift illustrated by both the singers slow and steady forward footwork and an animated video displaying the movement of Mother Earth.
The “Biophilia” album’s marriage to computer touch-screen apps, which allows the listener to randomly interact with the music, was absent at this show. In fact, just getting the audience to clap in time with the rhythms at the show seemed daunting. As for the special effects, the Tesla coil that re-created lightning above the stage was fantastic, but Bjork should take a lesson from Spinal Tap and set her smoke machines on high.

Dan Aquilante

publié dans New York Post - 05.02.2012

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