With a couple of decades of history now behind, it would make sense that The Ace hotel brand would seek to birth a spinoff; and said spinoff actually arrived last spring on New York City’s Bowery in the form of the intriguingly named Sister City hotel. And surely looking to build its own cultural identity athwart that of the mothership, the hotel has enlisted Björk, in conjunction with Microsoft AI, to create a generative lobby “soundtrack” that is meant to interact with the changing activity of the sky just above.
As one might reasonably expect, said soundtrack draws on years of her personal choir archives (yes, she has “choir archives”—just as much as we’re guessing Halsey and Cardi B do not). Hardly surprisingly, it sounds more like it would be soundtracking a conceptual sledding expedition through Finnish Lapland than creating the aural atmospherics for a trendy NYC hotel.
The idea was sparked when during Björk’s sold-out Cornucopia residency at The Shed last May, the Hamrahlid Choir, along with their director Thorgerdur Ingólfsdóttir, took up at Sister City for the length of rehearsals and performances. They concluded the stay by joining the Icelandic songstress for night of choral performances and dancing at the hotel.
Björk, as ever, has a decidedly ethereal explication for the project—whilst also expressing her enthusiasm for how our little winged friends will affect the sound experience.
“An architectural structure in downtown Manhattan offered me the hand in an AI tango,” she explains, “and I accepted the call. I offered them my choir archives, written over 17 years that will float through the pinball of Artificial Intelligence by the grid of bird migrations, clouds, airplanes and that voluptuous thing called [a] barometer.”
And indeed, despite our facing worryingly accelerated species extinction, she enlightens, “Hudson Valley happens to be one of the most bird-trafficked deltas on the planet, I know this of my own experience. Hope you will enjoy this!”
How could we not?