Released on Hotflush, the latest opus from James Shaw aka Sigha has a beautiful and surprisingly emotional artwork that he art directed himself. The picture is from Jimmy Mould and illustrates the very sensual yet very abstract electronic music from Sigha. But there's more to it.
Seeing it, I couldn't help thinking about the artwork of a new wave classic from 1982 : "Nowhere girl" by B-movie.
It has the same romantic and "sensual but sad" feeling, even if one (B-movie) captures the New Wave feeling (that "Fade away" thing ;-), while the other one is clearly Techno (Sigha) : part sensual (dance, flow) with this woman's body, part mechanical (machines, sequences) with the lack of a face to humanize this body.
I think the "root" common point of the impact of both these images has to do with elegance. So many people use female pictures everywhere in our world, to sell any-thing, but few succeed in conveying the very nature of the female soul, or at least one of its many facets. Both these records are doing it.
Maybe B-movie's art direction (the type work especially) is the one thing where it feels slightly more crafted than Sigha's work...
|B-movie's back cover.|
I couldn't find more infos about the rational behind Sigha's piece of artwork. But "Nowhere Girl" is even more evocative when you know the back story : first, this song was dedicated to a girl named Maria, that was strongly related to all 3 members of the band : she was their "égérie". And not only did she played the synth lines in the middle of the record, but Maria was also the reason the band disbanded a few years later...
Second, the image is inspired by a photography from the German photographer Bill Brandt, as shown below.
Then, a nice thing to note is... the nipple! Both in B-movie and Sigha's artworks, the image was cropped to remove it from sight (you will find on the net some promo images for Sigha's album that show the complete image). In both case, it made the picture better by concentrating the viewer's attention on something more significant : the way the girl looks nowhere in B-movie, and the way she hides her face in Sigha's picture.
Again we see that (visual?) elegance is about removing the useless and focusing on the meaningful.
And on a technical point of view, the cropping creates a beautiful framing that captures the eye in both graphic designs.
So yes, B-movie took its inspiration from Brandt, but I feel that they enhanced the idea and made it more simple, and even more emotionally significant. And for Sigha, everything in this image creates a strong feeling of mystery (and maybe alienation?) In that sense, it subtly illustrates the album's title.
New Wave on one side, and Techno on the other, both expressed with grace.
One final funny thing is to compare the 12 inch artwork of B-movie (above) with the one of their EP (below). Good design... but where's the magic ?