Our latest pick of great album art includes an animated record sleeve for Jaga Jazzist, acid bright folk art for Nozinja, a beautiful deluxe box set for Of Monsters and Men and some psychedelic designs for Tame Impala. First up, though, is Andrew Archer’s illustrated cover art for Everything Everything’s Get to Heaven.
Everything Everything – Get to Heaven
Get to Heaven is the third album from Manchester band Everything Everything. Vocalist Jonathan Higgs says the record is inspired by religion, faith, politics and extremism (one song is concerned with Nigel Farage, another with teenage girls travelling to Syria) – “but above all, power.”
The cover art for the album was illustrated by Andrew Archer, and features a terrified figure with a hand thrust in his face and another grabbing the collar of his jacket. Higgs says the image draws on religious iconography and scenes of faith healing.
Moodboards and initial sketch for the cover art, by Andrew Archer
“We wanted a cover image that is impossible to ignore, even if you think it’s ugly as hell,” Higgs told CR. “Colourful, dynamic and aggressive, but with the underlying promise of light and hope, which is also how we wanted the album to feel,” he says.
“We were attracted to Andrew’s work because of its boldness and its surreal, comic book style irreverence. We mocked up a scene of faith healing but we wanted the emphasis to be on the receiver, the believer, and the effect of power being foisted upon them,” Higgs adds. “Mostly, we wanted to walk the line between ecstasy and agony, the figure as much terrified as he is euphoric, his faith dragging him down and lifting him up in a healing motion. We added a ring to the aggressor to subtly introduce a sense of wealth, and a halo effect inspired by religious portraits.”
Inside, lyrics and song titles are printed alongside provocative phrases in bold black type, such as “Do you want to know how far you’ve come?” and “Do you have any idea?”
“It was always a thought from the outset that the type needed to be bold and intrusive and hard to ignore,” says art director Jonny Costello, from Adult Art Club. “We loosely toyed with the idea of having text on the cover, but felt the illustration was so strong it would have possibly lost some impact. Minimal heavy set letterpress style bold text was used on the bright gradients to echo high impact religious posters, with pull quotes of lyrics set like fervent call outs from Holy books.”
Of Monsters and Men – Beneath the Skin
Designer Leif Podhajsky‘s work has been featured in several of CR’s Record Sleeves of the Month posts – from his soul-inspired design for Kelis album Food to his intricate die cut sleeve for Bonobo EP Flashlight.
His latest work, for Of Monsters And Men album Beneath the Skin, uses the band’s logo coupled with abstract black-and-white imagery. The standard edition comes with a pair of transparent discs, while the deluxe box set features two marbled LPs, a signed lithograph poster and a die cut box with embossed pattern.
“For the album cover and singles we wanted to create something both iconic and simple, but underneath the surface a more complex and abstract pattern would reveal itself,” explains Podhajsky. “The album has this emotional depth and a very personal, honest touch to the songwriting, so we really wanted to explore this in the artwork, delving ‘Beneath The Skin’ and exposing what lies below.
“To add to this veiled concept we used the shapes of [the band’s] logo as a die cut, which the inner pattern shone through and revealed itself when you opened the package. We all loved the idea of creating multiple layers in which the listener/viewer would have to explore. We also created a unique set of symbols for each of the songs [also visible on the band’s website],” he adds.
Label: Republic Records
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
The cover art for Norwegian experimental jazz outfit Jaga Jazzist’s latest album, Starfire, is a hypnotic design which uses optical illusions to create an animated effect, as demonstrated in the film below. It was designed by Oslo-based designer and illustrator Martin Kvamme, who also created the artwork for new Sol Invictus album, Faith No More.
The black, white and gold artwork is coupled with some bold custom type, and an Op Art inspired black and white design was used for the inner sleeve (a similar design also appears on the cover of Oban, a single from the album).
“I guess anamorphic isn’t quite the correct name for it, but I’m not sure what to use. It’s some kind of optical illusion,” explains Kvamme. “In this case, you make a seven frame animation, and the slipcase has a grid where the image animates when you drag it over. [It’s] simple, but fun. We also wanted soemthing that looked strong as an album cover, and that also worked as an animation. The overall idea was to make graphics that are in motion,” he adds.
Label: Ninja Tune
Jamie XX – In Colour
In Colour is the debut solo album from producer Jamie xx (Jamie Smith). The cover features the same graphic device used on his previous singles and EPs, including We’re New Here and All Under One Roof Raving, but features multiple colours instead of two contrasting shades (We’re New Here, a remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here, featured a green and pink sleeve and All Under One Roof Raving, red and blue).
It’s a simple symbol, but one that’s now instantly recognisable as Smith, while providing a nod to his membership of The xx (both of the band’s albums feature similarly minimal covers with a single ‘X’). The deluxe edition of the album comes with three colourful discs housed in equally bright sleeves, and the artwork has been used to create a range of merchandise including record slip mats and tote bags (sold on his website), as well as a lovely light-up installation at Phonica Records, pictured above, plus gig and tour posters. Design: Jamie Smith & Phil Lee
Label: Young Turks
Nozinja – Nozinja Lodge
Lodge is South African producer Nozinja (Richard Mthetwa)’s debut album on Warp Records. Hailing from Limpopo, he is described as a pioneer of Shangaan electro, a fast paced style of dance music which originated in the country’s townships.
The artwork for the album was designed by Travis Stearns at Oval-X, and draws on Shangaan culture and African folk-art, combining acid brights with graphic patterns and bold florals.
“In the creative deck we called this direction Gumbo; assembled souvenirs from the Shangaan. The combination of high brow/low brow, east/west/north/south, world/other-world, folk art simmered in 190 bpm time-travel brochures, so there’s this layered fusion of desert drifting motor bikes, sinewy chromatic green and the clothing; lots of influences from Nozinja’s own tailored garments as well as traditional patterns worn by the dancers,” Stearns explains.
The bold design is hard to ignore, and the inner gatefold features a great shot of Nozinja in his trademark tailored clothes. Warp has also commissioned some great promotional shots of the artist dressed in feathers and brightly coloured custom trousers, and the album art was recently used to create a striking window graphic at London record store Honest Jons, pictured below.
Tame Impala – Currents / Cause I’m a Man
Tame Impala’s music has been accompanied by some brilliant photographic and abstract artwork over the years (Leif Podhajsky produced the artwork for several singles from previous album, Lonerism, as well as 2010 release, Innerspeaker), with imagery often referencing the band’s psychedelic sound.
Its latest album, Currents, features some equally mesmerising artwork, this time designed by Kentucky based artist Robert Beatty. Beatty says the cover image was inspired by diagrams of vortex shedding, turbulent flow and the way liquid and air flows around objects, which were given to him by the band’s frontman Kevin Parker.
Beatty has also produced artwork for single releases ‘Cause I’m a Man (the video for which was featured in our latest music videos of the month), Disciples and Eventually, using similar patterns with different shapes and colours. It’s a very different look to the band’s previous artwork, and another great set of record sleeves from Beatty, who recently worked on Islam Chipsy EP, Kahraba, as well as album art for Oneohtrix Point Never.
Rail Cables – Winter Selection 2015
Rail Cables is a seasonal compilation series which features music inspired by trains and rail travel. For its debut release, composers Scanner, Dru$s, Ran Slavin and Greg Fox were each asked to make a soundtrack for a rail journey of their choice.
The artwork for the record (a limited edition of 300) was designed by Manchester studio DR.ME, and features a black-and-white photo collage made up of images related to travel. “As all of the composers make dark, electronic, quite kaleidoscopic soundtracks, we wanted to create a hand made pattern based collage to create the idea of travel, almost like travelling down a monochromatic, psychedelic portal,” explains DR.ME’s Mark Edwards.
The record comes in a screen printed plastic bag, which lists tracks and credits alongside a graphic device based on train tracks. “Stuart Metcalfe, who runs the label, was really open to us interpreting the visual aspect of the record as we pleased, so…he allowed us have the over bag screen printed with a loose representation of railway tracks running into the distance, along with the tracks on the rear. We didn’t want these to get in the way of the artwork as we were keen that the sleeve should be something to be viewed whilst listening to the record,” adds Edwards.