Responses by Jon Forss, art direction/design, Non-Format
Background: Black Devil Disco Club’s first album was released in 1978, but quickly fell into obscurity until it was reissued by Rephlex Records in 2004. Lo Recordings then persuaded the Black Devil himself, French electronic musician Bernard Fevre, to work on new material and five studio albums followed afterwards. In 2019, Fevre announced his retirement and that his sixth album, Lucifer Is A Flower, would be his last. As the design duo Non-Format, Kjell Ekhorn and I have been designing music packaging for Lo Recordings for over 20 years, including all of Black Devil Disco Club’s new albums. Along with design partner ANTI, we were invited to design the final Black Devil album with the promise of a limited edition version on red vinyl bundled with a bonus 7” single.
Reasoning: Most of our designs for Black Devil have featured a combination of an expressive photo-illustration with one of our experimental custom typefaces, so we felt that this last Black Devil album should follow in this vein. After a bit of self-doubt, a few false starts and a sense that the devil himself had a hand in designing this album, we finally hit on the pairing of simple black and white photos with deconstructed type all floating on an unbroken sea of red. The balance of complexity and simplicity conveyed the strength of purpose that seemed right for this final album.
Challenges: Our first attempts featured images composed from a combination of 2-D and 3-D elements, with an early version of the typeface that appears on the finished packaging. However, none of the images gelled so we took it in a different direction. It can be frustrating when you’ve put in many hours of work but you know in your heart that it just isn’t working. At this point, Fevre sent us a folder full of photos from his childhood and early adulthood, which became the catalyst for the final packaging. We made Fevre himself the focus, framed by solid fields of red and accompanied by expressive black typography.
Favorite details: The main typeface we created for this project is our most fluid expression in type. The nebulous qualities provided freedom from any kind of rigid, modular setup. We usually start by drawing only the characters that are essential for a title or artist name. Then, as each new single was announced, we drew the necessary new letters in a similar style but always with an extra twist to keep things loose and amorphous. I particularly like the letter H, which appears in the word SYNTH on the cover of the 7” single and has a shape that resembles a mouth.
Visual influences: I’m particularly drawn to the work of Charles Quirouard, Jacob Wise and Brando Corradini. I’ve also noticed work that combines spiky or fluid gothic type expressions with hard-edged typographic detailing that all gets crammed into the available space. It comes across as a gothic version of the postmodern experimentation of the late 1980s.
Alternative approach: One detail that eats at me is the size of the track listing and credits text on the LP. I like it when elements contrast in extreme ways, so I wish I’d made that text half the size or even smaller. The devil is in the details after all.