The Minimal Yet Bold Art of Sophie
The elusive candy-coated producer Sophie released a new single today called “Lemonade.” As you may have predicted if you previously followed his viral single, “Bipp,” from last year, that thing is a delightful oddball of squeaky, abrupt bass, if not more. (You can preview a minute-long clip of it here.) Sure, I could gush about that in detail, and I’d be glad to, but I want to talk about something else instead. And that’s the artwork used in Sophie’s latest and also his past one for the “Bipp / Elle” 12”.
The art used for “Bipp" resembled half-Fruit by the Foot strip and half-fantasy water slide. You could make a good argument for either being that “Bipp” musically embodied both the dangerous sugar highs and the exuberance of a sliding down a huge water slide when you’re a kid — Maybe those two happening at the same time?
For “Lemonade,” shown above, the art is clear and literal, nevertheless colorful and constructed beyond the laws of the universe; the thing is floating in solitude and the sharp spiral loop makes you question its engineering whether it’s actually safe in reality. But the producer’s tracks defy the traditional rules of dance music and his synths often lean towards a threatening levels of distortion, so it’s an apt configuration either way.
I don’t know if it’s just my experiences at my local water park since I was a kid, but I associate water slides with bold primary colors, kinda like Sophie’s. If that color palette is not what you imagine, then picture a McDonald’s PlayPlace and its ball pit, basically a pool of exciting colors. In a way, the rush of youth and it’s dumb-fun energy is easily connected with primary colors — those water slides, the ball pit, the classic eight-set Crayola crayon boxes, if you wanna go further. It’s a similar take as found in Hudson Mohawke’s latest artwork for his new, equally-brash single “Chimes,” and in his case he riffed on the bright colors often used for pool floats.
Of course the clear difference between Sophie and Hudson Mohawke’s art is that the latter’s incredibly busy to the point of crude, and the former is meticulously minimal. The split in the extremes of busyness splits their music, too.
Despite the fact the two go in your face with loud sounds, they render it almost opposite of each other. While Hud Mo continuous stacks and covers his playing field, Sophie turns up the concentrate on one single component, mostly the corrosive synths. His production is incredibly stripped as well. Usually nothing is left in the space between the whirring bass and his dented synths. Hud Mo’s often sound like a sleek collage or a symmetric stack of glass; Sophie’s feel exactly like its covers — a lone buzzing, radiant ball bouncing around in a vast, empty room.
Sophie’s stripped music is given a meticulous amount of attention, and it’s exciting to find that the representing art is equally thought out. It’s perfectly Sophie from the colors, shape and the implied spirit. The theme has been a continuous one, though he has released only two official singles so far. I don’t expect him to strictly churn out water park-themed art, but hopefully the art continues to embody the brilliant music behind it as defining as it does now.