FLUME Skin

Futuristic digital flowers express the electronic euphoria of Australian dance musician Flume's album 'Skin'

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

How do you capture the dreamy, euphoric qualities of electronic music in artwork? It's a challenge relished by LA-based Australian graphic designer Jonathan Zawada, who created the look and feel of Flume's latest album 'Skin'.

Launched in May 2016, the second studio album by young Sydney dance musician/producer Flume (aka Harley Streten) poached the place on our playlist which his dazzling 2012 debut album 'Flume' had been monopolising. In November, 'Skin' won eight ARIA awards, including Album of the Year and Best Cover Art for the visionary Zawada (and 'Skin Companion EP 1' was released). This year, Flume's single 'Never Be Like You' (featuring Canadian singer Kai) bagged the coveted number one spot in Australian radio station Triple J's Hottest 100 2016 (receiving 2.2 million votes), teaming ecstatic, honey-in-your-ear vocals with stuttering synths and pulsing, percussive beats. Melancholy, other-worldly single 'Say It' and hip hop-infused 'Smoke & Retribution' and 'Lose It' also made the list.

A rollercoaster of soaring melodies and intimate songcraft, Skin is a mesmerising mash-up of hip hop, pop and EDM, but its design wows too. At first glance the CD cover looks ultra-pretty, innocently natural and photo-realist, with a delicate flower backdropped by a pinky-lavender-blue haze. Look closer and a metallic stem and leaves suggest a futuristic edge. The pull-out, folded paper insert features more dreamy blooms, their seductive, vibrant hues set against moody nocturnal backgrounds. A dark, thorny cactus glistens with a silvery sheen. Organic meets synthetic, and the botanical flirts with the alien, as Zawada makes digital design feel emotional.

Multi-talented Zawada's output spans painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles (for fashion duo Romance Was Born), lighting and furniture, frequently shown in galleries. But the creative director is best known for technology-driven album art, music videos and live gig graphics, attracting a host of electronic music clients including The Presets, Baauer and Mark Pritchard.

Inspired by legendary Manchester graphic designer Peter Saville (of Factory Records), Zawada aims to craft vinyl records, CDs and digital downloads that are things of beauty in their own right. While 'Skin's beguiling artwork seems by turns natural and hand-painted, it's actually computer generated, based on mathematics algorithms. If you sit at your screen but yearn for the Great Outdoors, this evocative design will get under your skin... Fizz rating: 9/10.
flumemusic.com

Flume's album 'Skin' is out now on Future Classic. For Jonathan Zawada's personal work see zawada.com.au or for commercial projects including album design check out zawada.io