I knew prior to seeing Björk that this would be a hard review to write. A Björk DJ set is quite the rarity and I can only base it off one Boiler Room set on YouTube.
The Icelandic superstar took the stage a little bit after 10 p.m.. She was wearing an outfit that came out of a Lady Gaga wet dream: a metallic costume that covered her entire body with massive spiked shoulder pads. The entire costume was doused in vibrant colors of gold, purple, pink, red, and orange.
The crowd had no idea what to expect. Some whispered that she would do a live act, a microphone was near the equipment. The set began with ambient sounds that went nicely with the tropical motif of Mana. The studio was littered throughout with trees, creating a lush vibe for such a rare act. It started out as what I would have imagined to be a typical Björk set: tiny noises with an emphasis of the sounds of nature.
However, at a moment’s notice, the set rapidly changed to bombastic hip-hop samples of Cardi B and Junglepussy. No, this is not a typo. There were 30 minutes of intense, modern day hip-hop. The crowd was a tad confused at first but started to groove soon after. Björk led the movement as she danced nonstop throughout her set.
The rest of the set consisted of samples of Indian and Middle Eastern chants over heavy bass and flutes. This seemed more “Björk-like” and pushed the weird envelope up ten-old; the crowd, again, never lost the beat. Björk took a quick break and her opener, Rabit, took over.
The last 20 minutes took yet another turn and Björk finished with more nostalgic tunes from her own studio work such as “All Is Full of Love.” And like that, it was over; more than 20 years of anticipation was over in just an hour. I’ve seen some weird shows but this one is up there. At times it sounded like Björk said “why don’t I put all these sounds in a blender and then put that blender in bigger blender?” It was awesome and truly encompassed the spirit of Art Basel. Boundaries were pushed. DJs get nervous having to switch to multiple genres in an hour set. Not Björk, she went all over the place. While the technical aspects of a DJ were absent, she made up for it in charisma and audacity. Bjork played the songs that she likes and not just what we expected to hear.
It should also be worth noting that Oneohtrix Point Never closed and played a more “Björk set” than what we imagined Björk to play. He led the rest of night with an ambient style that coincided with all the tress and flowers that grew throughout Mana.