Back at the beginning of June, Björk began to release assorted media related to Vulnicura via Dazed. First, on 6 June, came the 360-degree virtual reality video for ‘Stonemilker’, one of three pieces filmed with director Andrew Thomas Huang in Iceland in the autumn of 2014, and showcased in connection with Björk’s exhibition at MoMA earlier this year. ‘Stonemilker’ portrays Björk on the small islet of Grótta, in Seltjarnarnes west of Reykjavik, on a beach with a lighthouse. Virtual reality headsets bearing the video were installed at MoMA PS1 for the duration of the exhibition across the East River.
This was swiftly followed on 9 June by the video for ‘Black Lake’, which was commissioned directly by MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach, and served as the centrepiece of Björk’s exhibition. It shows in a wide view Björk within a ravine and roaming the Icelandic highlands. Huang described it as ‘one of the most ambitious music videos I’ve done, because of the emotional weight and power of the song, and the rigorous conceptual development that we had over many months in planning it correctly’. And Björk accompanied the appearance of the video through Dazed with the following thanks and thoughts:
here comes the black lake video
a video me and andrew thomas huang did
i would like to thank him and james merry so strongly for going through with me the longest video process yet
especially to andrew for his talented elegant patience and to take my first visual impulses and weave into them his own magnificent vision :
im so honoured !!
it was a complex yet adventurous process to synchronize with so many departments
i would like to thank klaus biesenbach for commissioning the video
and ta to the haxan cloak , the speaker collaborators , the architect david benjamin , marco perry who all helped me make the most ideal sound room possible for that song
and then thank derek and emma birkett and tamsin . and iris and erna
and arca for producing the music with me
i guess its time for “stonemilker” and “black lake” to get out there into the world after a 3 month stint in a museum ….. ( after all the effort , stonemilker was like black lakes spontaneous baby sibling ha ha ha ) we tried to make it in a way it was both at home in an exhibition and also in the context of a no nonesense music video ( still my fav format) and i hope you dont mind the wait’
At the same time, Björk released what proved the first of three collections of Vulnicura remixes, made available for purchase by One Little Indian as downloads and subsequently as limited edition single-sided etched translucent 12-inches, but streamed again thanks to Dazed. The first set of remixes were by Lotic, Katie Gately, Mica Levi, and Kramphaft. Björk and each of the artists commented on the process at length:
‘Björk – Notget (Lotic Keptsafe version)
“lotic is the one of the first musicians alejandro introduced me to autumn 2013 with piles of enthusiasm : i got immediately obsessed enjoying how always total nature he was !! the most clublike flamboyant anthems of his always seem like shrieks of beasts , dark insects and pagan birds displaying their feathers in a territorial way : a colourful celebration !! the reason why i asked him to do notget was there are certain suspension like elastic gravity defying beat structures that him and alejandro share ( each in their total idiosyncratic way though ) that notget has and i had a gut feeling he would take further . which he did .” – Björk
“When Björk sent over the original track to review late last year, I couldn’t believe how well she had intuited that ‘Notget’ was the perfect selection for me. Perhaps it was a bit of coincidence, but I was very much still tending to the scars left from my previous relationship while at the same time nurturing my current one. ‘Notget’ is both the mourning and the eulogy; I knew this meant remixing the song would be difficult, both technically and emotionally. In the end, I felt I had to attempt to amplify both the desperation the song expresses as well as the inspired, reminiscent joy. The result came to be two completely separate explorations, with ‘Keptsafe’ exploring the sorrow and ‘Fromdeath’, coming next week, the bliss.” – Lotic
Björk – Family (remix by Katie Gately)
“katie gately was introduced to me through our mutual friend robin carolan . i was immediately blown away by her universe : has a refined engineers point of view expressing melancholy with some organic physical sonic fine textures . she picked her song and it didnt surprise me she went for family . i feel out of all the remixes she really took it most somewhere else while keeping true to the core of the song . which is that fascinating contradiction of the best remixes …. ” – Björk
“Robin Carolan introduced us through email and bjork asked if i was interested in remixing, which…i undoubtedly was. i asked to work on “family”. When I got the stems, I started by just erasing all of them except for the vocals, and allowed myself to add anything to the stew which was originally a “voice” – a sound made from a vocal chord. I harmonized her main vocal line with pitch-shifted owls, peacocks, hyenas and sparrow calls and turned that into the new track. I spoke with her on the phone afterwards, and she seemed excited that it was so different from the original.” – Katie Gately
Björk – Lionsong (Kareokjeijd version by Mica Levi)
“mica is someone i have been following growing since 2008 , like a proud aunt , i might even have been at her first concert ? sooo exciting to witness her grow into a full on composer carry the weight of such things as “under the skin” … and i still adore her upbeat stuff with tirzah too !!!” – Björk
“I did a karaoke version more than a remix, because I love her string arrangements and thought it would be an opportunity to draw attention to them. I hope Björk isn’t offended that I took her voice out, [but] you can hear it in your head – or sing along.” – Mica Levi
Björk – History of Touches (remix by Kramphaft)
“krampfhaft is someone i have been listening to for few years adoring his hyperbeauty , orchid techno i nickname it in the vein of plaid and others : brave enough to take joy on in the often rather apocalyptic environment of electronic music” – Björk
“I was very honoured to be part of this, although it was a pretty daunting taks to rework a song with such an intimate topic! As the original is very stripped down, all I could think of doing was adding in [even more] tension and drama. So I layed the whole track on to a bed of heavily compressed cloth movement and gradually built up the tension from there.” – Kramphaft’
On 22 June, Björk and Dazed proffered the second set of remixes, featuring Tri Angle artist Rabit, UNTOLD, and ‘Family’ co-producer The Haxan Cloak. Björk and colleagues said:
‘Björk – History of Touches (Rabit naked mix)
“was so blown away when i heard him first , just the amount of character in the beats , adore his spartan fierce some sort of texan techno teddy boy thing : you can always tell its him !! have so much enthusiasm to witness him grow , his best def yet to come …… ” – Björk
“The situation around this remix posed so many new questions for me. Björk wants to work with me? Is this for real? What could *i* do with a song from that album…and would it ever be good enough? How would I know when it’s done, and mostly, how am I going to do this sitting in my chair at home, don’t *real* musicians use studios? By the time my track was done, most of my questions had been answered. I just went with my instinct and trusted the results. I tried to find that thing that she recognises in my music, turn to it, and let it out. I hope people feel it.” – Rabit
Björk – Lionsong (Choral Mix) featuring UNTOLD
“featuring the icelandic choir that was on biophilia and i edited a beat to it : an old rare song from untold called flexible : kinda always fall flat for beats like this , that have a sense of humour , slapstick and played with sticks and stones but still electronic and are no genre : not punk not house not charleston not rave … this is one of the characters lionsong could be , the hyper outgoing one , he was kind enough to be up for this experiment” – Björk
“Early last year Björk emailed saying she had something she’d like me to listen to. I had a show in NYC soon after so I visited her studio where she played me an early version of ‘Lionsong’ from Vulnicura. In this alternate version the vocal floats above an amazing choral arrangement, the rhythm driven by a tuned percussion sample from one of my early tracks. I caught up with Björk again in NYC this spring after seeing her performing the album live at City Center where we confirmed releasing the ‘Choral mix.'” – UNTOLD
Björk – Mouth Mantra (The Haxan Cloak)
“after bobby ( the haxan cloak ) had mixed vulnicura ( and made one beat ) i was kinda keen asking him if there was any song he´d be up for taking further as a remix and he said mouth mantra … it was humbling for me to see one person take on like a whole album of mine like that , listen to it like thousand times and curious after him being soaked in it for months , where he thought he could take it further ? i am enjoying extremely this version live now as he is playing it w me on this summers festivals : it just takes off rocket style ha ha ha ha ha i almost forgot singing last time we played it” – Björk
“I’ve always loved ‘Mouth Mantra’ since the time I heard the first version when we were doing the mixing – there’s something so satisfying about that goth breakdown section in the middle. We went through a few different iterations of it when we were mixing the record. Some where the beats were super loud and bombastic, some where the strings took more centre stage (we ended on a wonderful compromise of all these things). There’s something about ‘Mouth Mantra’ that really appeals to my sensibilities, so I always flirted with the idea of remixing it. When it came time to start thinking about prepping for the live shows, Bjork asked me if there were any songs I’d like to remix for playing live – instantly I thought of this one. I wanted to keep the core of the song but just really amp up the drama and intensity to 11 (surprise surprise). I then decided to refine the live remix for a more studio/headphone listening environment, so that’s what you hear now. I actually finished it on a plane last week and was texting Björk while I was finishing it. We were having a laugh about eschewing time zones and being ‘off-grid’ in all senses of the phrase, so at one point we came up with, “Mouth Mantra – ‘Haxan Cloak acid grid dissolve international time zone mix,’ but, ‘The Haxan Cloak remix’ just rolled off the tongue a bit easier.” – The Haxan Cloak’
We had to wait a little longer – until the end of this week, Thursday 1 October – for the third and final installment, comprising remixes by Juliana Huxtable, Bloom, and patten:
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The past week or so has seen several heavy-handed Hollywood big hitters release their major film prospects of the autumn. The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, stars Matt Damon as an astronaut crudely left on Mars, with Jessica Chastain commanding the team who, having made the mistake, must return to attempt a rescue. The Intern, a Nancy Meyers project, features Robert De Niro as the ageing aid of Anne Hathaway, the CEO of an e-commerce fashion company.
Bridge of Spies – based on the shooting down of a United States U-2 spy plane in Soviet airspace in 1960, during the Cold War – boasts an especially stellar group of creators, starring Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Joel and Ethan Coen alongside Matt Charman. And Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard head up director Justin Kurzel’s take on Macbeth. Fassbender’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle, is to come over the next week. And the end of October will produce Spectre, the latest flick with Daniel Craig as James Bond, this time affording the talents of Christoph Waltz and Léa Seydoux.
A little more interestingly, the middle of October will have Guillermo del Toro turn his hand to romantic gothic horror in the form of Crimson Peak, starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain. Suffragette centres upon the British suffrage movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, with Carey Mulligan in the lead role, Helena Bonham Carter as Edith Ellyn, and Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst.
He Named Me Malala is a portrait of the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, directed by the documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, famed for An Inconvenient Truth (2006). And The Lobster, a comedy drama marking the English-language debut of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, has roles for Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. The Lobster is set in a dystopian near future, where single adults must couple within forty-five days or be transformed and forced from civilisation, and it won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Finally Taxi, by the Iranian director Jafar Panahi, is continuing to receive a staggered release worldwide after winning the Golden Bear at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February. Banned from making films and from leaving Iran following his arrest in 2010 charged with propaganda against the Iranian government, Panahi made Taxi – like This Is Not a Film (2011) and Closed Curtain (2013) – in secret, but this time out on the streets of Tehran. Panahi drives a taxi about the capital and listens to the chat of his passengers.
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A full weekend of sporting activity saw England, at Twickenham on Saturday evening, become the first hosts ever to be eliminated in the pool stage of a rugby World Cup. Needing at least a draw to remain in contention, despite a brief resurgence by the mid-way point of the second half, a late flurry from Australia – spearheaded by Bernard Foley, who ended the match with two tries, three conversions, and four successful penalties – saw them fall to a 13-33 defeat. Australia and Wales will progress from Pool A for the quarter-finals.
The WWE Network special the same night, Live from Madison Square Garden, proved an unsurprisingly lacklustre affair, many of the matches simply holdovers from Night of Champions. The most aesthetically pleasing aspect of the show was arguably the pink middle rope, which really popped in support of Susan G. Komen. Neville vs. Stardust and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho, given limited time, amounted to no more than steady singles bouts; Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler were thrown together against Sheamus and Rusev for a stale tag; and though Team Bella’s defeat of PCB attempted to advance the story of Paige’s split with Charlotte, it wasn’t clear why PCB were still joining up after recent events on RAW.
Most damning, Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show – ostensibly the very purpose of the special, and the subject of weeks of excessive advertising – went on second from last, not even worthy of the main event, with the two wrestlers persisting for just four minutes. The squash victory for Lesnar was nothing new and achieved little for either man. And to cap the night, John Cena scored his third pinfall victory in so many weeks over the utterly discredited WWE World Champion Seth Rollins, although this time at least Rollins could cite the scary ringside presence of the demonic Kane. A theme of WWE’s year, The New Day once again stole the show with their hugely enjoyable antics against The Dudleys.
Meanwhile UFC 192, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, made for an impressive event despite the apparent lack of excitement: there were no knockouts or submissions on the main card, all five bouts going to a decision. In the penultimate fight, former Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans – competing for the first time since UFC 167 back in November 2013, after suffering a string of leg and knee injuries – looked rusty as he succumbed over three rounds to Ryan Bader. Headlining the card, the current Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier took a split decision over Alexander Gustafsson to retain his title. Gustafsson cut Cormier in the second round with a knee to the face, and remarkably managed more takedowns than his opponent while remaining light on his feet, but Cormier was the more aggressive athlete and dominated in the clinch with frequent flurries of uppercuts.
On a big day of football on Sunday, two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic allowed Paris Saint-Germain to come from behind to beat Marseille 2-1, and they made Zlatan – just turned thirty-four years old – his side’s top scorer of all time. AC Milan were thumped 0-4 at the San Siro against Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne scoring twice. Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw across at Atletico. Bayern Munich devastated their Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-1, with two goals apiece from Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski, who now has twelve goals in his last four games. Arsenal took apart Manchester United with three goals inside the first twenty minutes. And a 1-1 draw at Everton wasn’t enough to save Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers his job: with the decision already made, he was sacked within an hour of full-time, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti the favourites to replace him.
At last, on Sunday evening, despite losing 4-9 to the Baltimore Orioles – and a long run of poor form which saw them win just ten of their final twenty-six games – the New York Yankees confirmed home field advantage for Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at the start of the Major League Baseball postseason. They will face the Houston Astros, who clung on to second in the AL West ahead of the Los Angeles Angels. In the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday, two teams from the NL Central will face off, the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the Chicago Cubs.