Björk sounding at SONAR

Bjork - Sonar Festival 2017

From Resident Advisor.

Sónar opened on Wednesday with a rare DJ set from Björk. The event encapsulated two things the festival does well: big-name artists and forward-thinking sounds. I was sure Björk would play great music. Her taste, after all, has been on the cutting-edge for more than 20 years. But having never seen her DJ before, I wasn’t sure how her selections would gel. It turns out that the Icelander has a remarkable knack for stitching together wildly disparate styles. I doubt I’ve seen a more diverse DJ set with such a great flow.

The performance began with peaceful folk and classical songs while the audience sat on the floor. It finished rowdily with harsh post-club sounds and, for the final track, big band music from the 1940s. In between, Indian cover versions, Middle-Eastern party tracks and UK Afrobeat were among the many curveballs. One notable section saw her move from Brandy’s R&B to tribal water drumming to face-melting dubstep. It struck me midway through that she must sift through an improbably huge amount of music to find such varied tunes.

Björk also looked amazing. Wearing a bizarre beekeeper’s outfit from the 19th century, she performed behind a botanical garden of greenery. With her wide-brimmed hat barely visible among the leaves, she looked like an enchanted character from a Studio Ghibli film. According to Björk, the staging, outfit and music were part of a theme: nature vs. digital nurture. She even revealed before the performance that she DJs with the free Mac software GarageBand. That shows you there’s no formula for DJ greatness. Put simply, Björk is as good a selector as you’re likely to hear.

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