Björk Brings 'Biophilia' to Richmond
Music is a fluid, ineffable phenomenon, triggering everything from repressed emotions to unexplained reserves of energy in its listeners. Music is also a product of math and science, the thing that happens when a string is struck and the resulting sound waves find their way to our ears.
Björk's Biophilia, which was released in the fall of 2011 and will be performed in-the-round in Richmond's Craneway Pavilion on May 22, 25 and 28, 2013, explores the nexus of music and science as only the diminutive Icelandic artist can. While the mechanics of sound (the struck string, etc.) are definitely a part of Björk's A/V-geek investigation, she's more interested in what music can tell us about our DNA, the interaction between a virus and a cell, the growth of crystals, the structure of the Earth, indeed, the very order of the cosmos.
When Biophilia debuted in the United States in New York in 2012, more than half the performances in its 11-night run were held at the New York Hall of Science at the site of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens. For her Northern California dates, the first stop on a six-city North America tour that ends at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, Björk has selected a similarly out-of-the-way space in the Craneway Pavilion. Designed by Albert Kahn, the building opened in 1931 as a Ford assembly plant and was retooled during World War II for tank and jeep production. Today, it's part of a complex that includes the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park.
The exterior of Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, California.
As in New York, the current tour will include educational programs for school kids (for the Richmond dates, these will occur at the Exploratorium), revolving around the enhanced, interactive versions of the album created for the iPad. San Francisco gets Björk's music-education curriculum for three days; Reykjavík middle schools have made Biophilia a core part of their teaching materials for three years.
With its high ceilings, 40,000 panes of glass and industrial vibe, Craneway promises to be a good home for Biophilia, as the live performance (see below) of "Thunderbolt," a track from the album, suggests. I mean, do you really want to see a MIDI-controlled pipe organ, a gravity harp, a pair of musical Tesla coils and a 24-member choir of Icelandic women hemmed in by the beautiful confines of The Fox? Probably not.
And then there's Björk's voice, as mysterious as the viruses, crystals, moving tectonic plates, and miracles she sings about. That, too, seems to cry out for a space that understands technology, a venue that has seen raw materials combined to make something new and greater than the sum of its parts. By the end of the show, you may not be humming Björk's melodies, such as they are, to songs like "Crystalline," "Dark Matter" and "Mutual Core," but it's a good bet you'll be infected by the science bug that bit Björk.
Björk performs Biophilia and pieces from other albums at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond on May 22, 25 and 28, 2013. For tickets and more information, visit livenation.com.
More on Music
Theater Review | Dec 05, 2013
British two-man parody whizzes through the wizard world of Harry Potter. By Sam Hurwitt
The Bay Bridged | Dec 04, 2013
Listen to The Bay Bridged mix of bands playing the Bay Area in December 2013, including: King Krule, Blood Sister, The Herms, Sun Araw, Holy Ghost!, and more.
Theater Review | Dec 03, 2013
The 10th anniversary production of Kneehigh's Tristan & Yseult is a refashioning of the cheekily irreverent show that first put the British troupe on the map. By Liz Mak
Book Review | Dec 03, 2013
Half travel book, half fancy, Michael Jacobs' The Robber of Memories imagines Columbia's tumultuous Magdalena as a river of myth, able to steal the memories of anyone who drinks its waters. By Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Movies | Dec 02, 2013
Take a break from the holiday hubbub with films that range from cutting edge to classic. By Michael Fox
Pruitt's new EP, To Win Your Love, pays homage to classic pop while remaining rooted in contemporary West Coast sounds. Hear the singer perform songs from the record live on stage in West Virginia.
The experimental band plays a funky, whimsical set live in Philadelphia for a special episode of World Cafe. Lead vocalist and songwriter Honus Honus also offers insight into the inspiration behind this year's On Oni Pond, as well as the darker 2011 album Life Fantastic.
Although Jamaica is a small island, it packs a big punch in the world of music. Host Michel Martin speaks with dancehall reggae artist Gyptian about his latest album Sex, Love & Reggae.
The songs were a byproduct of slavery in the U.S. But after being passed along by generations of African-American musicians, they were later embraced by a variety of improvisers, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Grant Green and John Coltrane.
Also on KQED.org this week ...
Obamacare Explained: A Guide for Californians
Starting Jan 1, 2014, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. KQED has created a simple guide to explain how the health law affects you, your family or your small business.
KQED Celebrates the Holidays
Find holiday-related KQED television and radio programming, events, gift ideas, recipes, and other Web-exclusive goodies.