New Musical Packages

It’s been a while since we posted up some fresh-looking musical packages and what with everyone (at last!) talking about “renewing value in music releases” we thought now was a good time to show a few things that have caught our eye recently for one reason or another…

It’s been a while since we posted up some fresh-looking musical packages and what with everyone talking about “renewing value in music releases” we thought now was a good time to show a few things that have caught our eye recently for one reason or another…

First up is Melvin Galapon‘s package for Sheffield duo Run Hide Survive‘s release on startup record label Show Off

Actually, the 12″ record sleeve is plain white with a central hole. But pull out the enclosed record to find a 12″ square, 12-layer screenprint, signed and numbered by Galapon from an edition of just 100. Photography by Anne-Cecile Caillaud.

Small, independent record labels, such as Show Off, have long understood the importance of creating collectible, desirable music packages and the larger labels are finally realising that they shot themselves in the foot by introducing the jewel case – which, over the years, has persuaded the music-buying public to place zero value on music releases. Oops.

The Vinyl Factory – a company in London that owns Phonica record store, EMI’s old vinyl pressing plant in Middlesex and FACT magazine, has recently started to produce limited edition musical packages for vinyl-lovers… The first package they did was a boxed edition of Beautiful Future for Primal Scream but we’ve just clapped our eyes on their second project – which packages sumputously the music and artwork of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Monkey Journey To The West – and felt duty-bound to post up some images:

The red, cloth-effect box measures approx 40cm wide, 35cm high and 4cm deep

Open the box to find the text-free cover of a gatefold double vinyl pack…

Remove the gatefold vinyl pack and a folded print on bible paper to find a small book of artwork housed snugly in a foam surround…

Open up the vinyl pack to reveal more artwork on the inside and also on the two printed inner sleeves. The music is spread over three sides of the vinyl discs with the fourth side adorned with etched illustrations by Hewlett

Here’s that etched vinyl

So, to recap – here’s what you get when you purchase this box: Double vinyl pack, small exclusive book of artwork and an art print on bible paper – not to mention the code to download a digital version of the album

We can’t deny that this box set is lovingly conceived and produced to a very high standard. In fact it feels like pretty good value for £65 – although we are left wondering how we’d store it at home… The fact is that we’ve become so used to storing music digitally that being faced with such a nicely produced, oversize box of vinyl and printed goodies is slightly discombobulating. And let’s face it, this isn’t something to keep with your other records. It’s a collectors item that demands to be kept somewhere safely away from the harbingers of greasy fingerprints and clumsy hands…

The Vinyl Factory’s Sean Bidder also told us that there will be a special edition of the Monkey box set that will cost £250. So what do you get for such a sum, we hear you ask? Sean sent us a list of what will be included within the clothbound, foilblocked box:

• Four exclusive Jamie Hewlett giclee-on-somerset prints, each stamped, dated and numbered, one signed.
• Exclusive hardback, cloth covered 78-page 12″ size art book containing story, exclusive sketches and illustrations.
• Two super-heavyweight 200-gram vinyl LPs will be housed in the book, containing six bonus tracks not available on the commercial release. Pressed on the classic EMI 1400, with one-side specially etched.

Also, when you purchase the box, you also receive a digital version of the album. And, if you’re among the first 500 customers to order the box set, you will also receive a custom-made special limited edition Monkey Om Box, with musical tones composed by Damon Albarn and artwork designed by Jamie Hewlett. As soon as this is ready (release date of the special edition is next week) we will endeavour to post up images here on the CR blog. In the meantime, read more about The Vinyl Factory’s collectible box sets here.

We also noticed that US band, Of Montreal, have been thinking beyond the bog-standard stick-it-in-a-jewel-case approach to music packaging. The band’s new album, Skeletal Lamping – released last week through Polyvinyl Records is available as a straightforward download, there is also an option called the “2xLP Package Deal”. Purchase this $100 package and you get the album on double vinyl, a download code to grab a digital copy of the album, a paper lantern, a set of 9 button badges, a choice of wall sticker packs, tote bag and T-shirt, a sticker set, die-cut poster, the code to download three rare extra songs and a compilation CD. Full details of the package can be found here.

Actually, I also just noticed that Of Montreal have a new animated video for track Id Engager, directed by Marc Reisbig and Hanne Berkaak through Passion Pictures:

Another music release that comes with additional goodies that caught our attention is the forthcoming release of Subliminal Girls 10″ box enclosing their Self Obsession EP – a package created by artist Stuart Semple. The screenprinted cardboard pizza-style box contains a 10″ record, a fold out print, a photographic book, a screenprinted T-Shirt, a laser cut acrylic disk and one-off signed negatives of the band. The press release that accompanied news of this release (release date 17 November) talks about injecting album art with renewed value in the face of digital downloads – yet there are only 10 of these boxes being made and they will be priced at £600 each. So at first glance this box looks very punk – it’s a cheap cardboard box that’s been hand decorated by a mate of the band who’s an artist. However, launching the box set in art galleries (that’s the plan for this) with a sorry-you-can’t-afford-it price tag seems totally at odds with the look of the package.

Sadly, this seems like a PR project created to generate column inches rather than something that will give real fans the chance to own and cherish a beautiful release. How lovely will the ‘normal’ release be, we can’t help but ask ourselves? As for the limited, arty Stuart Semple box – you’d think £600 would buy you something more deluxe and impressive than a cardboard pizza box…

OK, it’s time to move away from arty limited edition box sets and head back to Sheffield, which is of course, where this blog post started… Sheffield’s own Tony “Is This The Way To Amarillo” Christie does his very best to shake the Amarillo association with a new album, entitled Made In Sheffield, on which he teams up with various Sheffield-lads to surprising effect. The album has been produced by Richard Hawley and the songs on it have been written by the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, Phil Oakey of The Human League, Christie himself and more… As befitting such a Sheffield-focused album, Sheffield-based design duo Peter and Paul‘s sleeve for the CD promo version (shown above with innersleeve), sees Tony Christie’s initials in a hallmarked emblem, referencing, of course, Sheffield’s rich silverware heritage.

This is the artwork for cover of Cicada‘s latest single, Falling Rockets, art directed and designed by Zip. Illustration by Eric Zener. There’s really not much to say about this, other than we like it so here it is

OK so this isn’t a record sleeve or package – it’s the logo for a brand new musical supergroup that’s lurking in the offing. Yes, The Bottletop Band (logo devised by Brighton-based Red Design) will be a showcase for the combined talents of Carl Barrat (Dirty Pretty Things), John McClure (Reverend and the Makers), Drew Mc Connell (Babyshambles), Mat Helders (Arctic Monkeys), Jagz Kooner (Primal Scream) and several others. But why would these musicians team up to form a new group? For charity of course – the Bottletop Band is a collaborative project devised by the Bottletop charity and clothing brand Fenchurch. The idea is that a selection of talented musicians and producers come together and produce an album, to be released sometime in 2009, in support of Bottletop’s charity work.

As well as the logo, Red has commissioned artist Jim Stoten to produce the above illustration which will adorn T-shirts.

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