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Watch Björk's First TV Performance in 8 Years

Björk recently appeared on the BBC’s Later… With Jools Holland, and it marked her first TV appearance in eight long years. Playing alongside the Icelandic singer were numerous flute-players, helping her to perform two songs.

The first was a performance of “Courtship” (above) off Björk’s 2017 album Utopia and the other track was “The Anchor Song” (below) from her album Debut, which came out in 1993. Surrounded by fake plants, Björk wore a strange mask, not unlike the one she wore in the “Utopia” music video released last December, creating an uncanny, mesmerising spectacle.

NME cover shot of Björk take in April 1995. Photographer Steve Double recalls, "Björk was as charming and off beat as ever and happy to play along with my slightly daft ideas for the pictures." © Steve Double

The surreal performance gives an indication of what people can expect for her headline show (27 May) at the All Points East festival, which is happening in London on 25 to 27 May at Victoria Park.

Along with this, on 25 May Björk will also be releasing a three-song 12” EP of “Arisen My Senses” featuring remixes by Jlin, Kelly Lee Owens and Lanark Artefax.

Back in December 2017 the bizarre music video (below) for “Arisen My Senses” was released. It was directed by Jesse Kanda, an artist and animator known for producing some seriously trippy videos. For the video Kanda said he took inspiration from leopard slugs and an unknown creature he saw washed up on the beach in Indonesia.

"A couple of years ago, this giant unidentified creature washed up in Indonesia." Kanda noted. "It was this gorgeous mound of white skin and fat and flesh in a pool of blood on a sunny beach. That really moved me – like total awe. It was the combination of something so catastrophic being so beautiful at the same time, the mystery and fantasy of what it actually was, and the connection to the grander ecological context. Björk had been playing a video of leopard slugs mating at her concerts, so I knew she and I both loved that as an image."

The pair also feature in a new mini documentary called Work in Progress, a series from WeTransfer. These “artistic soulmates” previously worked together on Björk 2016 track “Mouth Mantra”.

Along with exploring their artistic collaboration, the doc also looks at their early work and the Icelandic music scene. “When I collaborate with someone I really want to go on a trip.” says Björk. “The work that comes from that is a natural fruit from friendship.”

Contact sheet from photo shoot of Björk taken by Jill Furmanovsky in Primrose Hill in 1995 © Jill Furmanovsky

Speaking about her album Utopia, which “Arisen My Senses” comes from, and which she’ll no doubt be performing from in her upcoming headline slot, she told the Guardian that she wanted the vibe of it to be optimistic. Which, depending on what you're going to a concert for, is good news for the festival goers.

Because it stands in contrast to her previous album Vulnicura, released in 2015. An album so full of heartbreak that Björk said after performing gigs for it in Carnegie Hall, New York City the whole room was in tears. Not necessarily something you want when enjoying yourself at a bank holiday weekend festival.

Björk captured in London in 1995 by Jill Furmanovsky. © Jill Furmanovsky

So, she said, “Next time we’re going to have fun, OK?’ I wanted this album to go towards the light. You indulge in the grief to a certain point, but then you have to be a little bit Pollyanna.” It also, as the performance on Jools Holland shows, was inspired by flutes, which the singer wanted to include in the music.

And so she took inspiration for the utopia of the title from flute myths “from South America, Amazon tribes, and Africa, and Indonesia, and China, and Icelandic mythology”.

You can watch the performances on Jools Holland above and watch the documentary she did with Jesse Kanda, below. See more from Björk at her website here.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer these iconic Bjork images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.

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Bjork, London 1995 by Jill Furmanovsky. Available for sale.

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Steve Double

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Jill Furmanovsky

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Jill Furmanovsky is a British photographer who has specialised in documenting iconic rock musicians and bands from Pink Floyd to Oasis.

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