After a run of large scale residencies in the US, Mexico and Europe in 2019, Björk was recently back touring, with d&b Soundscape driving the audio for her critically-acclaimed Cornucopia tour at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium and San Francisco’s Chase Center in late January and early February.
As with the previous tour dates, d&b partner Southby Productions deployed a Soundscape system powered by the d&b En-Scene object-based mixing and En-Space room emulation software. Southby deployed a 180-degree Soundscape system to align with the size of the venue. The team also utilised a new tool, En-Snap, the result of a d&b partnership with Gareth Owen Sound. En-Snap enables a straightforward cue-based control within the d&b Soundscape environment. The software tool connects directly to the d&b DS100 signal engine and, with a single click, stores the parameter values of all 64 sound objects and any En-Space room emulation setting as an En-Snap cue.
Cornucopia is based on Björk’s 2017 album Utopia, and is directed by Lucrecia Martel and Björk with co-creative director James Merry. For Cornucopia, the end goal was to utilise sound as a creative tool to increase audience engagement and immersion. The production is that of a theatrical performance with pulsating visuals and spectacular vocals resulting in a full sensory experience for the audience.
Björk designed the show starting off with system trials in a small studio situated in a light-house, on a remote Nordic Island before moving to larger rehearsal spaces to experience the scalability of Soundscape.
“Soundscape is key to giving the audience the experience they expect from a Björk show,” said Jack Blenkinsopp, system tech for the tour. “Everything in these shows from the visuals, to the stage presence, to the audio experience is quite special and Soundscape heightens the experience. There are a lot of moments in the show where we have positioned the sound objects to match their position on stage for instance the reverb chamber. It really draws the audience in towards the performance, and what is happening on stage whether that be Björk, the flutes or the choir. No other tool captures the audience so authentically like Soundscape.”
For John Gale, FoH engineer on the tour, he was focused on ensuring the smooth transfer of the system between shows. “My biggest concern was ensuring we could scale the system, the LA venue and San Francisco venue were totally opposite, we were coming from a theatre to an arena in a short period of time, “he remarked. “Yet the system performed exactly the same. I believe no matter where you are sitting there’s really good coverage with the Soundscape experience.”
Over the last couple of years, d&b have made significant new developments to Soundscape, particularly within the DS100. “It’s great to come back to a system two years later and see they have been continuing to develop the product in the background, “said Gale. “The remit from Björk was that this needed to be a theatrical show and less of a pop concert and Soundscape truly allowed us to achieve this. Björk has been extremely happy.”
The control system and stage package for the Cornucopia tour is so bespoke that Southby, decided to airfreight the elements that were used on the previous European Arena run, to California, while the main speaker system components were supplied by Eighth Day Sound.
“Soundscape is integral to the Cornucopia Tour, the system is complex in its capabilities, yet its flexibility and scalability means we can deploy it all across the world,” said Chris Jones, director at Southby Productions. “Everyone is blown away by the results of Soundscape and the popularity of the system has cemented Southby’s place as one of the global specialists for Soundscape solutions.”
Speaking about the system during the European tour in 2019 Björk commented: “We spent a lot of time making sure that there will be synchronicity between the live music and the live visuals, Cornucopia is a celebration of the execution of that. I personally feel like it’s the most gorgeous sound that I’ve ever heard in a room.”
The Cornucopia tour took place at the Shrine Auditorium on the 26th, 29th of January and February 1st, moving to the Chase Center on the 5th and 8th February.