Time for a fresh round up of fantastic record sleeves. This time the selection of sleeves feature a gouache painting by Kazuki Takamatsu for Memory Tapes, tiny humanoid sculptures by artist Tessa Farmer for Amon Tobin, and beautiful photography by Sølve Sundsbø for Friendly Fires…
First up is the sleeve for Friendly Fires new album, Pala, art directed by Phil Lee at label XL Recordings who released the record. The front and back cover (above and below respectively) feature shots of a parrot by photographer Sølve Sundsbø.
Phil Lee at XL kindly took the time to tell us a little about his work on the album sleeve design:
“Having spent time with the band during the recording process and discussing with them the inspirations and influences for the record there was an obvious theme that ran through it,” Lee explains. “The title, PALA, comes from the Aldous Huxley novel, Island, which is about a doomed utopia. It ties in with how they felt about making a second album and being in a band. How things don’t turn out how you expect, and how that can be a good thing.
“We looked at various ways utopian life has been represented and visualised in other contexts. We found a wealth of minimal architecture, sterile communities and futuristic worlds but this all felt too cold and clinical for the record – which sounded really warm and full of life.
“During one meeting with the band we were discussing the book and it was mentioned that parrots inhabited the island and how they symbolised tropicana. This seemed a natural progression from people’s perception of the band from the first album and their live shows.
“A friend, photographer Tom Beard, mentioned that he had seen some beautiful images of parrots by the photographer Sølve Sundsbø. On seeing these images it was obvious that they would be perfect for this record and the material needed to promote it.
“We approached Sølve’s agent art+commerce with our proposal which they then took to Sølve. As this body of work was a personal project for him he was understandably very cautious as to how they would be used. To help our request I mocked up some roughs of how we proposed using the images in the context of the album cover and our campaign.”
“While striving to keep the sleeve impactful and making it work on the varying scales from iTunes packshot through to LP and large scale marketing, I needed the logo to be easily visible but not destroy the power and impact of the raw images.
“Choosing a light face (Neutra) and widening the spacing allowed the logo to cover the width of the sleeve, be very prominent and sit comfortable with the image. Deciding that the legibility of the album title was secondary to the strength of the image and awareness of the band name allowed me to propose printing it as a spot varnish.”
“The beauty of this was that up close you get the impression of something hidden and play with the angles to get the light to hit it in the right place and reveal the title. This technique combined with the few letters used again allowed me to place the text over the entire width of the sleeve which in turn made it even more effective.
“The choice of a full coverage UV varnish was an obvious choice to enhance the vibrancy of the images and then contrasting that with a matt varnish for the title was an effective combination.
“Not having the luxury of being able to wet proof the job with these 2 finishes was a slight gamble but having a close working relationship with Think Tank who specialise in high end production I felt comfortable that they were confident that what I proposed would work exactly how I envisaged.”
PALA by Friendly Fires is out now.
Above, Amon Tobin‘s new album, entitled ISAM is also available in this version entitled ISAM, Control Over Nature. As well as a CD containing the album, the cloth-bound book contains an introductory essay by John Doran to artist Tessa Farmer’s art project entitled Control Over Nature produced as a direct response to the album, and also photography of Farmer’s miniature dioramas which show tiny winged skeletons– slightly sinister fairy-like creatures – all made from organic matter and often posed with dead insects. Here are some spreads from the package which also served as the catalogue for an exhibition of Farmer’s artwork which is currently running, complete with Amon Tobin soundtrack, at London’s Crypt Gallery in St Pancras Church:
ISAM by Amon Tobin is out now on Ninja Tune.
Memory Tapes‘ forthcoming album, Player Piano, is due for release on July 4 on Something In Construction. The cover features a gouache painting by artist Kazuki Takamatsu, whose sharp edged monochrome paintings are well worth checking out if you’re unfamilar with her workt kazukitakamatsu.web.fc2.com.
CR in Print
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The June issue of CR features a major retrospective on BBH and a profile piece on the agency’s founder, Sir John Hegarty. Plus, we have a beautiful photographic project from Jenny van Sommers, a discussion on how illustrators can maintain a long-term career, all the usual discussion and debate in Crit plus our Graduate Guide packed with advice for this year’s college leavers.
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