Around the time Björk released her ninth adult solo album, 2017's Utopia, she suggested she was planning a live version of the LP with even more flutes. Given the amount of flutes already on that record, this seemed more like a threat than anything. It hasn’t materialized thus far, but Björk is nevertheless delivering more flutes in the form of a “box set” of 14 “handmade birdcall flutes that have been individually selected by Björk” called the Utopia Birdcall Box Set. If that’s not sufficiently conceptually indulgent, consider the price: £500.00. Today that’s $607.33, though given the shaky state of the British economy with Brexit looming, you may be able to get this for the price of a cup of coffee by the time its November 1 release date rolls around.
Is this too twee? Its extravagance, its aggressive Björkishness, makes me want to say no. I don’t like Utopia. I like birds, but their songs are typically my least favorite things about them. I don’t ever set out to listen, much less play flutes. And yet... I want this. It seems like it would be great fun for the first 15 minutes and then will collect dust for all eternity, but gorgeously so. I’m very curious about the rubbery one that looks like a cross between a hot water bottle and a douche:
Along with the release announcement, Björk released a statement about this box set. She said:
I’m just kidding. I mean, she probably did say that, just not in the mailout. What she actually wrote in the preorder announcement was:
utopia is so much about birdsong and sonically the mutation between synth/bird , bird/flute , flute/synth ....... air like that was a theme through all of the album . so i got very excited when i found these handmade wooden flutes imitating precisely particular birds . and i guess wanted you guys to have an opportunity to share that with me ........ enjoy !!! warmthness , björk
I love the idea that she just “found” these. One day, Björk was out walking in the woods and she came across this box set with 14 flutes, the Utopia artwork, and a flash drive growing on the side of the tree. She was so delighted that she announced, “We must mass produce this musical fungus.” Lo and behold, the Utopia Birdcall Box Set was born.
The actual copy goes:
Created in collaboration with the company Quelle est Belle from the mountains of southern France, this deluxe edition boxset comes housed in a bespoke perspex case designed by M/M (Paris). The hand-etched lid features an intricate design, while tinted side panels cast a softly coloured glow, illuminating the 14 unique birdcalls nestled inside individually assigned compartments. In the upper left corner sits a custom-made USB-C Flash drive containing the music of Utopia, along with videos, images and an exclusive, unreleased instrumental track. A discrete drawer below houses an eight-page colour booklet detailing each birdcall and providing instructions for use.
Contents of the USB :
Unreleased 360 photos of björk
Album and single artwork files
Bird call tutorial videos
Arisen my senses video
The gate video
Tabula rasa video
Blissing me video
Here is an example of the instructions:
That sounds hard, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Nicole Kidman, you aren’t the only goldfinch in this town.
The birds represented in flute form are: redshank common sandpiper, nuthatch, pheasant, goldfinch, black headed gull, robin, blackbird, chaffinch, long eared owl, great tit, lapwing, starling, slue tit, redstart. This is great news for those who have been wanting to imitate the nuthatch but didn’t have the confidence to do it unassisted. I had no idea before today that I just happen to be one of those people.