Film: Biophilia live

Biophilia: "The passionate love of life and all that is alive" 

– Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973)

On the weekend, Watershed was showing Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland's film of Björk's Biophilia. A stunning spectacle that pairs the 2013 Alexandra Palace live performance with striking visual sequences made by different artists for the album, it makes for wonderful cinematic viewing.

Powerful synth and percussion outbursts bring otherworldly images to life and Björk and her choir set an ethereal atmosphere with their flawless performances. The film is well-paced, with a lovely introduction from David Attenborough and seamless transitions from one song to the next – and between the artwork and performance shots. 

"Welcome to Biophilia: the love for nature in all her manifestations, from the tiniest organism to the greatest red giant floating in the farthest realm of the universe," intones Attenborough's familiar voice at the start of the film. "We are on the brink of a revolution that will reunite humans with nature through new technological innovations. Until we get there: prepare, explore, Biophilia."

Amen to that. For me, highlights in the show are Crystalline, which ends with a fantastic drum 'n' bass-like frenzy of beats, Cosmogony with it's beautiful chorus and Mutual Core, which references diverging tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions. Moon is also gorgeous. The song makes use of the Gravity Harp, a robotic instrument commissioned by Björk and made by Andy Cavatorta.

Having visited Iceland and recently finished writing a piece about Reykjavík for BBC Music Magazine, I have become utterly enamoured with the country and its culture: any mention of it and my ears prick up. So it was pretty special to see one of Iceland's greatest artists expressing her deep love for nature through spectacular sights and sounds. For those of us who weren't lucky enough to catch the 2011 tour, this is not a disappointing alternative. And I have no doubt that it's a great bit of memorabilia for those who did.


If you like this, why not try:

My weekend in Iceland
The Playlist: Ólöf Arnalds
Erró: The World Today, Reykjavík Art Museum


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