Amber Bain is the Singer and Songwriter behind The Japanese House and its debut album Good at Falling . From the U.K., Amber is a 24 year old musician who’s music is described as electro folk and mournful synth pop (Buerger). When speaking on the albums songs, Bain tells Alexandra Pollard of Independent ‘“Most of the songs were written before the breakup, which is weird because it does sound like a breakup record,”’ (Pollard). The theme of break ups and life changes are present as well in the albums visuals.
Samuel Burgess-Johnson, an artist and art director most known for his work in the music industry with bands like The 1975, is the creator of the albums artwork and layout (Maher). As Amber describes the album being about a break up, it is an important visual influence for the cover and of the albums vinyl inside; space and distance have a heavy aesthetic impact as well.
The albums cover features a minimalist design. The photography is by Jim Mangan, and sets Bain in a vast landscape. She pops out as a bright red figure surrounded by the white sand. The photograph both creates a sense of isolation as well as serenity. Johnson does a great job at using the photography of Mangan to influence the cover design. He reflects the both the isolation and serenity of the image with the composition of the type. The bands name rests lightly in the top right corner as if it floats in the sky. Where photograph cuts almost halfway down the cover, the empty white space helps to create a subtle separate space for the title to sit. While the title is very small in comparison to the size of the album, it still manages to dominate the lower half, and draws your eye directly to it as a second focal point, after Bain in the landscape image. The track listing sits on the front of the album, where it usually sits on the back, yet it does not distract from the main composition. This allows for the feeling of emptiness to be carried into the back of the album, which is comepetely blank apart from the Label name and copyright in the bottom corners.
The inside of the folded album packaging features another photo by Mangan and more type listing the people involved in the albums creation and Thankyou’s from the singer. Mangan’s photo once again emphasizes the feeling of space and isolation. Bain lays on the ground as the landscape and sky seem to go on for ever.
The combination of Mangan’s photography and Johnson’s layout design work together to create a sense of distancing ones self from the rest of the world, as well as a strange mixture of sorrow and serenity that reflects the overall mood of the album.
Buerger, Megan. “The Japanese House: Good at Falling.” Pitchfork, Pitchfork, 4 Mar. 2019, pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/the-japanese-house-good-at-falling/.
Maher , Daniel Milroy. “Multi-Disciplinary Artist Samuel Burgess Johnson on His Work for The 1975.” It’s Nice That, 25 Mar. 2019, www.itsnicethat.com/articles/samuel-burgess-johnson-graphic-design-the-1975-250319.
Meek, Andy. “After a Breakthrough 2019, Here’s What’s Next for The Japanese House.” Billboard, 6 Dec. 2019, www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8545414/the-japanese-house-interview.
Pollard, Alexandra. “The Japanese House Interview: ‘If People Think I’m Using My Sexuality, Then so Be It. Let’s f**King Use It’.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 2 Mar. 2019, www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/japanese-house-interview-amber-bain-album-good-at-falling-marika-hackman-a8804331.html.