Some pieces of art are subtle. Not in how they are crafted or what they depict, but how they are showcased to the world.
Art comes in so many different forms it is sometimes difficult to identify it as such. This includes album art. Concealed behind the greater, grander music it visually represents, this type of artwork is often overlooked. That is not to say that album art cannot become iconic. From the naked baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind to the rainbow prism refracted on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, some albums are instantly recognizable for their aesthetic representation of their artists’ music.
While these following pieces might not be as revered, they are certainly evocative, emotive and downright beautiful.
Here are a few of my own favourite examples:
(Interscope, 2015, https://www.interscope.com/artists/tame-impala)
- Tame Impala – Currents
Currents is Tame Impala’s third studio album. A rock band renowned for their psychedelic style, the album’s cover by artist Robert Beatty reflects their genre perfectly. The art depicts a diagram on vortex shedding— an oscillating flow that takes place when water or wind hits a structure. Beatty describes how Kevin Parker, the band’s frontman, had ideas for the album artwork that ‘were all based on turbulent flow’. This skilfully visualises Tame Impala’s own sound, which undulates dreamily, an electric mix of synthesisers and falsetto vocals. Just as the straight moving lines hit the silver sphere and ripple, so does Parker’s music, swelling and surging languidly.
(Def Jam, 2015, http://www.defjam.com/artists/logic)
- Logic – The Incredible True Story
Miles, even galaxies away from the first album, Logic’s album art features sci-fi, vivid colours and a tangible, paint-stroke design. The piece was created by Sam Spratt, who describes it as ‘a truly bonkers cinematic concept album revolving around an original Sci-Fi story that [Logic] wrote’. The album’s filmic and extra-terrestrial feel reflects the album’s own plotline, which is set 100 years in the future, following two travellers seeking a planet called Paradise after the Earth’s has been destroyed. This fun, ambitious theme is emphasised by the artwork. Spratt’s painting inspires a futuristic yet classic vibe that spurs nostalgic and hopeful feelings within.
(Polydore, 2016 http://www.michaelkiwanuka.com/)
- Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
Michael Kiwanuka’s artwork follows on from Logic. Aesthetic and expressive, it strikes more as an artistic piece that holds its own status than something simply representational. The album cover features a grey heart, split in two, reminiscent of a yin and yang divided. Its grey surface is textured and creased, half of it melting, resembling a moon under duress. The heart reflects the album title, ‘Love & Hate’, depicting two feelings, one whole, one corroded. Yet the heart’s two pieces resemblance to each other suggests these emotions have more in common than might first be anticipated, as Kiwanuka’s own lyrics suggest. The bleak, yet beautiful, atmosphere the art evokes emulates his style of music. Sad, sombre and striking, his deep, rolling vocal chords are perfectly accompanied by this desolate graphic.