Record sleeves of the month

Cover of UNKLE’s latest release: End Titles… Stories For Film, which features imagery by Robert Del Naja
It’s been a while since we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite music packages in a blog post – so here are a few that have caught our collective eye in the last few weeks…

End Titles... Stories For Film by UNKLE - art direction and design by Sam Freeman & James Lavelle

CR has covered the artwork and record packaging efforts of musical duo UNKLE (James Lavelle and Pablo Clements) many times before. This latest release by the pair isn’t a new album though – well, not in the traditional sense. It is, explains Lavelle in the enclosed sleevenotes, “a collection of pieces of music recorded in the two years since we completed War Stories (the last album).” The duo, along with Lavelle’s brother, Aidan have started their own music production studio and have been working on music for film, television, computer games and collaborating with a selection of artists in the process. The release includes the music the studio created for Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones’ BMW advert. “A lot of the music you’re making [for these kinds of projects] ends up sitting on the shelf, neither properly released nor heard. A waste, really we thought. So this album,” explains Lavelle, “is our attempt to alleviate our musical frustrations whilst hoping that it will find a wider audience.” While the packaging of End Titles… Stories For Film doesn’t quite live up to the vacuum-packed boxes that War Stories was packaged in, the embossed DVD-size case that our copy of End Titles arrived in is still an eye-catching one. Inside a glossy booklet features yet more work by Robert Del Naja (whose work adorns the cover shown above) and some rather nice portrait photography by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones.
spread from booklet
another spread from booklet

Nu Balearica mix by Fred Deakin
Nu Balearica by Fred Deakin - design and art direction: Fred Deakin

Fred Deakin hardly needs an introduction on this blog. His latest mix CD release, Nu Balearica (released on Ministry of Sound), comprises two CDs tucked into beutifully designed inner sleeves, both of which are housed, along with a booklet containing tracklist and sleevenotes, in a slipcase (shown above). A bellyband (not shown) displays the name of the album and lists some of the featured artists for shop-display purposes. The new release focuses on recently released dance records that all hark back to a time when dance music was emerging in the mid-80s in Ibiza – a genre of music that is variously described as cosmic, new disco, space disco and neo or nu-balearic. And – perhaps unsurprisingly – Deakin has created the artwork for the release himself, using colours and gradients that evoke the skies, seas and sands of island life. “It’s got echoes of the first Lemon Jelly album [artwork],” explains Deakin of his sleeve design. “The notion of having a family of shapes that you build a pattern out of very organically is the foundation of this sleeve.” The colours and gradients used are designed to evoke the skies, seas and sands of island life…

Nu Balearica - inner sleeve 1 open
Nu Balearica - inner sleeve 2 open

In the current (August) issue of CR are details of how to win a limited edition, signed and numbered print of artwork created for the album – print artwork shown below!
Nu Balearica artwork print - CR August issue Gallery prize!

cYCLiCAL by iTALtEK (front cover)- design by Ben Reece
Having written about the two sleeves above, I realise I know nothing at all about iTALtEK other than writing the name with this mix of upper and lower cases is a bit of a chore… However, we really like this sleeve, designed by Ben Reece, hence its inclusion here. Label: Planet Mu.
cYCLiCAL by iTALtEK (back cover)- design by Ben Reece

Sleeve artwork for The Automatic
This Is A Fix by The Automatic - design by Kiosk
This Is A Fix is Welsh rockers The Automatic’s second album on b-unique/Polydor and the art direction/design is by Kiosk with photography by Shaun Bloodworth. The sleeves have no text on them – just big removable stickers. Kiosk creative director, David Bailey says the sleeve of the album and of the single, Steve McQueen (below) is a “tip of the cap to Kubrick and a deliberate step away from the band’s previous cartoon-like artwork.” Album is released 25 August, single on 18th.
Steve McQueen by The Automatic - design by Kiosk

Cortical Songs by John Matthias and Nick Ryan
Cortical Songs by John Matthias and Nick Ryan -illustrations and design by Cecilia Lindgren
Cortical Songs by John Matthias and Nick Ryan -open
Really like designer and illustrator Cecilia Lindgren‘s approach to this sleeve for John Mathias and Nick Ryan’s Cortical Song’s release on Nonclassical Recordings.

Chemical Chords by Stereolab
Chemical Chords by Stereolab - art and design by House at Intro
French indie pop combo Stereolab have a new album on 4AD and it’s jolly good. Wonderfully lo-fi artwork and design is by “the most expensive graphic designer in London,” (according to Noel Gallagher), Julian House of Intro. If Creative Review recommended albums, we’d be recommending this.
Chemical Chords back cover

Army of One by Somatic Responses
Army Of Substance by Somatic Responses - design by Neil Fletcher / Oscar Goldman at Substance
We’re fans of the work of Substance – the duo that have created this artwork for the latest release from techno outfit, Somatic Responses: Army Of One. The artwork hasn’t actually been printed yet – hence the flat graphic – the information at the top of the image will appear in the front-facing column of spine you get in a jewel cd case.

And last but not least, here’s a sneaky preview of the front cover of the forthcoming Roots Manuva album, Slime and Reason, due for release in September:
Slime And Reason by Roots Manuva - design by Oscar & Ewan
Design is by Oscar & Ewan. Label: Big Dada

More from CR

Advanced Beauty: weekly podcasts

Advanced Beauty is the name of a collaborative project curated by design studio Universal Everything and musician Freeform in which programmers, artists, musicians, animators and architects are invited to collaborate on digital artworks influenced by sound…

Fiat Grande Punto: Looks familiar?

Krow Communications Fiat Grande Punto ad, directed by Partizan’s Michael Gracey
Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed the similarities between the above ad for the Fiat Grande Punto and Roel Wouters’ Grip music video for zZz. So, yet another example of an ad agency shamelessly ripping off a music video? Not quite. For once, it seems, an ad agency has attempted to do the right thing…

(More) Fun with YouTube

Indecision – an interactive hyper-videoblog story by Rupert Howe
Maybe you all know this already, but YouTube has recently added some new features to the site, under the rather dry title of YouTube Annotations, which allow you to add interactive commentary to your films. Another possibility is to add hyperlinks from your film to others, as is demonstrated in this sweet videoblog by Rupert Howe – watch the film until near the end, when it comes over all choose-your-own-adventure…
Update: As Rupert has noted below, you have to watch the video on YouTube itself to get the hyperlink bits to work (ah technology, why must you always be so complex?). Click here to view the effect in action.

UK Music Video Awards

The UK Music Video Awards is a new awards scheme celebrating, um, the UK music video scene. The event takes the place of the recent CADS awards, and will include a gala awards night held at the Odeon West End in London’s glittering Leicester Square on October 14.
The deadline for entering the awards is August 12, and videos eligible for entry are for singles released in the UK after May 1 2007 and before July 31 2008. For a list of categories and further info, visit (where you can also see the awards’ rather fine logo in animated form).

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