W+K Amsterdam’s AR App Can Turn a Vinyl Record Into a Mind-Bending Lava Lamp

Agency launches LAVA platform with 11-track album

The LAVA platform lets artists create 3-D animations that hover over an album via AR. Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
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One of the most fascinating tech demos I saw at this year’s Cannes Lions was unfortunately also one I wasn’t allowed to talk about—until today. Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam has launched an augmented-reality platform that blends art and music, creating 3-D animations that hover over a vinyl record and correspond with the specific track that’s playing.

To roll out the platform, the agency partnered with Amsterdam musician Necessary Explosion on his 11-track debut album, SOS. Listeners who download the Necessary Explosion iOS app can watch what W+K describes as “psychedelic AR sculptures that accompany the soulful, ’70s vibe of each song.”

No vinyl record? No problem, you can still watch the animations while listening to the album on Spotify or Apple Music.

You can watch a sample of the AR experience here:

What’s hard to convey in such footage is the ability, when used in real life, to move around the player and view the animations from multiple angles. I even pressed the phone into the 3-D creations to see what’s inside, revealing layers of the animation you won’t see from a distance.

LAVA was created by W+K Amsterdam’s Department of New Realities innovation hub in partnership with W+K Portland’s Lodge creative technology group.

The Wieden team worked closely with the musical artist to create animations based on his creative interpretation of each song, and they note that future projects will be stylistically unique to each musician who uses the platform.

“Necessary Explosion’s impending vinyl release was the perfect opportunity to experiment with this concept, and to pair the nostalgic pace of the ’70s with new technology and give it a retro-future twist,” says Anita Fontaine, creative director at W+K Amsterdam’s Department of New Realities. “With this experience, you engage at the same passive, chill rate you would looking at a sleeve or lava lamp. It’s the future digital vinyl sleeve. This first project is only the start of LAVA. We see this approach as a new emerging genre for lots of artists, one which can open up new possibilities for all kinds of AR music experiences.”

In a statement, musician Necessary Explosion described why the project resonated with him: “Vinyl, for me, is the most magical vessel for someone’s music. There’s an incredibly satisfying ritual associated with carefully placing a record on a turntable and, while listening, diving into the liner notes and album artwork that is sort of lost on today’s digital music culture. LAVA is a cool way to update that ritual with technology that makes it more attractive for the mobile generation. That the app still works whether you have the record or not, though, means the artist and the listener can still have a deeper connection, regardless.”


Department of New Realities (W+K Amsterdam)
Executive Creative Director: Mark Bernath
Creative Director: Anita Fontaine, Geoffrey Lillemon
Business Director: Kirk Johnsen
Producer: Dylan Galletly
3-D Animator / Modeler: Thomas de Rijk
Digital Designer: Leeza Pritychenko, Greta Medelyte

The Lodge (W+K Portland)
Producer: Lily Darby
Engineer: Mike Latzoni, Nate Horstmann, Stephen Schieberl
Designer: Jenna Simmons

Artist: Necessary Explosion

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."