Record sleeves of the month

Our latest pick of record sleeves includes some political and protest-themed artwork for Poliça, life-sized sculptures by David Altmejd for Yeasayer, some unsettling photography for The Jezabels and an alphabet based on sheet music for Kate Simko and the London Electronic Orchestra

Poliça – United Crushers

Minnesota band Poliça’s third album, United Crushers, is a politically charged one, touching on police brutality, protest and anxiety about the state of the world today. The striking artwork was designed by Eric Carlson and combines a photograph of a pregnant woman with symbolic illustrations of smoke, blood, poppies – and severed fingers and hands.

“The intent behind United Crushers is deeply political, so naturally the artwork developed regarding the language of protest and propaganda, and [the fact that] the album speaks to fashion, advertising and portrayals of feminine power, beauty and subjugation,” says Carlson.

Polica3
Images courtesy of Key Production

“We wanted to establish a versatile set of iconography…. The portrayal of fertility, with that of violence and the illicit has an automatic charge, and it is a difficult charge. The maternal silhouette formally approaching a glyph is draped in a violent veil, and framed in the seduction of escape and untethered hands of hers or others. Dour as the implications may be, I find in it a surrealist hope – something as triumphant and elevating as it foreboding” he adds.

Artwork has also been used to create posters, GIFs for social media and a limited edition black light poster, pictured below. The vinyl edition was manufactured by Key Production and comes with a rose pink disc.

PolicaPoster

Label: Memphis Industries

The Jezabels – Synthia 

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Sydney-based designer Christopher Doyle partnered with photographer Pierre Toussaint to create the quietly unsettling artwork for The Jezabels‘ third album, Synthia.

The artwork touches on the album’s key themes of artificial intelligence, synthetics and alter egos, explains Doyle. “We had spoken a lot with the band about synthetics, and also the idea that we all carry round ‘versions’ of ourselves. We kill them off or switch them off at different times,” he explains.

“Our idea was to show Synthia in the company of another version of herself – we tried to different things while shooting, but the shot that stood out in the end was one girl, carrying the other on her back. There seemed to be a perfect and unsettling mix of burden, strength and reinvention…. We wanted it to feel calm and clean, almost sci-fi ish, hence the white outfits and black-and-white treatment,” he adds.

It’s the latest in a series of great covers by Doyle for the band – for debut album Prisoner, he worked with Toussaint to create some eerie shots of desolate Australian landscapes, defaced with rips, tears and doodles, while follow-up record The Brink featured an enigmatic series of paintings by Polish artist Jarek Puczel.

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Animal Collective – Painting With

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Animal Collective’s tenth album comes with a choice of three covers by artist Brian DeGraw, each depicting a different member of the band. DeGraw was initially asked to create a portrait with all three Animal Collective members for the cover, but after struggling to fit them in a square frame, decided to create a choice of images instead.

“Each image was initially hand painted using sumi ink, watercolour, and acrylic. For each individual portrait I would do multiple versions, one in black-and-white in a tight straightforward style, one very loose in colour, one without looking at a reference photo, one that was based purely on feeling, etc etc. Then I used the straightforward ones as the root layer and just started cutting up the other versions into strips or various shapes and layering them on top to find colours and compositions that were pleasing to me,” he explains.

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Work in progress shots by De Graw (@bdeegee)

“After all of the hand painted elements were in a place where they seemed solid I then photographed them and began altering them digitally and tweaking certain elements to add another aspect of distortion, and also some clean graphic elements…. When I had images I was happy with, I passed them on to Rob Carmichael who did the layout. He also ended up tweaking the back cover images a bit more and conceived of the idea of having the inner sleeve of each record include whichever two portraits weren’t on the cover,” he adds.

To promote the album’s release, Animal Collective has launched an interactive ‘Painting With’ app which allows users to take a photograph and create digital artworks with it in a style reminiscent of DeGraw’s.

Label: Domino

Nevermen – Nevermen 

© The Vinyl Factory, Nevermen, Lex Records, Michael Wilkin Photography (8 of 14)
Image by Michael Wilkin, courtesy of The Vinyl Factory

Nevermen is a collaboration between TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe, rapper Adam Drucker (Doseone) and Faith No More’s Mike Patton. Artwork for the group’s debut album was created by Turner Prize-winning artist Keith Tyson, who produced an intriguing set of images and some mysterious symbols for its outer sleeve.

“The original idea was a kind of homage to the album as full artistic experience,” says Tyson. “When I was a kid growing up in a rural community I didn’t have access to museums or culture so I got all my art, music, poetry and politics from albums and television.

© The Vinyl Factory, Nevermen, Lex records, Michael Wilkin Phot
Image by Michael Wilkin, courtesy of The Vinyl Factory

“Album covers are such a rich seam to mine and I drew on everything from Iron Maiden’s Eddie through to Peter Saville’s early New Order Covers as inspiration.  The symbols appearing in several covers reference the mythologies present in concept albums of the 70s and were designed after consultation with each member of the band,” continues Tyson. “Nevermen is ultimately a band made up from frontmen, so I thought of it a little like a hydra with multiple heads.”

© The Vinyl Factory, Nevermen, Lex records, Michael Wilkin Phot
Image by Michael Wilkin, courtesy of The Vinyl Factory
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Image by Michael Wilkin, courtesy of The Vinyl Factory

Label: Lex Records

Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye

Cover-image
Cover art

Cover art for Yeasayer’s fourth album Amen & Goodbye, released on April 1 features a tableau of sculptures and digital images by New York-based Canadian artist David Altmejd. The impressive gatefold scene, pictured below, shows pop-culture and religious figures, cartoon characters, a silent movie star and a child sacrifice.

“I decided to offer them a sort of landscape filled with as many details as possible.  I thought about a series of objects that would be inspired by characters that came from Yeasayer’s albums … but also characters that come from the news.  There’s really fake looking sculptures, there’s printouts representing cartoony characters, there’s naked people…. For me, what’s very important is that the image offers enough visually for people to be really absorbed in the observation of details,” says Altmejd.

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Gatefold image

Yeasayer’s Chris Keating says the image was inspired by Hironymous Bosch, classic tableaus and Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. “I’ve been a huge fan of David Altmejd’s work since about 2006,” says Keating. “His sculptures were compelling and otherworldly and reminded me of a deconstructed aesthetic that we were attempting to create sonically.”

Altmejd spent around two months building the sculptures in his studio in Queens, says Keating, and his creations have also been used to create some startling gig posters:

YeasayerPosters

Label: Mute Records

Kate Simko & London Electronic Orchestra – Tilted EP

© The Vinyl Factory, Never, Deek Records, Vinyl Release, Photography Michael Wilkin
Label: The Vinyl Factory 2016. Photography: Michael Wilkin. Artwork: Paul Pensom
© The Vinyl Factory, Never, Deek Records, Vinyl Release, Photography Michael Wilkin
Label: The Vinyl Factory 2016. Photography: Michael Wilkin. Artwork: Paul Pensom

Kate Simko is a classical pianist, composer and the founder of London Electronic Orchestra. Tilted is Simko and LEO’s first EP, released ahead of their debut album in May.

Artwork was designed by Paul Pensom (Studio Pensom), who created an alphabetical system representing sheet music from the title track. The system started out as a series of symbols representing the notes A-G but Pensom has since extended it to create a full alphabet (shown on the reverse artwork, below) and the record’s front cover doubles as a transcript of the music from Tilted. Jakob Erbar’s Bauhaues-influenced typeface Erbar is used for the artist, title and track listings.

Label: Vinyl Factory

To submit record sleeves for consideration, email rachael.steven@centaurmedia.com

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