Album Sleeves of the Month: March
10. Akinetic - In Tall Buildings
Designed by: Jared Bell, Rick Alverson
Akinetic, the third album from In Tall Buildings, fuses distorted strings and keys into gorgeously layered soundscapes that make it Erik Halls most immersive record yet. With help from Jared Bell on the jacket design, and Rick Alversons camera work for the cover image, Akinetic is a perfect package both musically and artistically; The cover shot is a still from from the music video for the song "Curtain"; Alverson was shooting in a couple of different elevators and noticed Hall's hazy reflection in the stainless steel walls: "We tracked down an early 70’s Otis in Richmond, VA, but the mirrors couldn’t beat the standard, flat-metallic-glaze of the small generic we took back to the ground floor from the basement of the old tobacco warehouse in Shockoe Bottom". As far as inspiration goes, Hall added: "I liked the idea of creating a portrait of me that appears to be in motion but that has been frozen or halted".
9. Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt - Moby
Designed by: Matthew Grabelsky
New York-based artist, Matthew Grabelsky, weaves fantastical imagery with real world scenarios for Moby's now fifteenth studio record. His work, he admits, is best viewed not as an allegory, but rather as a blend of every-day experiences and the subconscious. Despite bordering on ridiculous at times, they leave enough ambiguity to invite the viewer to make their own interpretation of what is going on. "This image and the album title", Moby explains, "indicate to me that as a species we have the ability to create a very benign paradise on this planet". The art itself, titled "Bedford Park", was not designed specifically for the cover of the record, however Grabelsky admits he is a fan of Moby's music, and added an outer space shirt on the boy as a deliberate reference to Moby’s song "We Are All Made Of Stars", which happened to be released the year he graduated from college.
8. Distant Early Warning - Laurence Pike
Designed by: Elvis Barlow-Smith
New York-based illustrator, Elvis Barlow-Smith, professes to working mainly but not exclusively in the field of music and entertainment, with a variety of design mediums that play host to his unique style, including album artwork and posters. Australian drummer, Laurence Pike, sought to adopt a minimalistic semblance on his debut record, musically, through drones and spellbinding instrumentation. And artistically, through Barlow-Smiths's polished surfaces and calming use of colour and tone.
7. The Widow's Son - Apathy
Designed by: Michael Peery
"Art is the greatest form of communication; universal, transcending all barriers", explains Conneticut-based painter, Michael Peery. Known for his portraiture, Peery works with oils on linen and canvas, capturing his subjects in striking lights and hues. For this piece, Peery adapted Sir Anthony Van Dyck's 1633 painting, "Charles I (1600-1649) with M. de St Antoine", and put a rather sinister spin on the chivalrous image of the Stuart court.
6. Homotopia - Sam Vance-Law
Designed by: Norbert Bisky
For his debut album, singer-songwriter Sam Vance-Law centred the concept of Homotopia around "vital, vivid and revealingly candid snapshots of life for a gay man in the 21st Century", adding, “[Homotopia] is about putting issues of equality front and centre. About testing audiences and their abilities to relate to the stories I’m telling". German painter Norbert Bisky's fresco paintings do a stunning job of seamlessly translating the musical and thematic subject matter of the record into art. His piece, "Musa Tropicana" (2017), utilises a Renaissance-style mural painting to display scenes of playful adolescence in brilliant colours.
5. Mirror Might Steal Your Charm - The Garden
Designed by: Crazy 8
Quirky duo, The Garden - aka, twins Fletcher and Wyatt Shears - continue down the line of weird and wonderful artwork for their third full-length, Mirror Might Steal Your Charm. "[MMSYC] sheds light on how mirrors can bring you back to reality, the same as they can take you away", explains Wyatt. "One might think they hold a certain charm, until they look into the mirror, which can illuminate how the rest of the world sees you, versus how you feel".
4. The Free Life - Turbowolf
Designed by: Andy "Tape Ears" Ghosh
Bristol-based Turbowolf looked no further than their own Andy Ghosh third studio album. Known as "Tape Ears" in the design world, Ghosh has produced the artwork for the bands 2011 eponymous debut record, as well as their Covers EP Vol.1 release in 2012. Ghosh also works alongside illustrator Rosie Lea to produce screenprinted artwork for their company, Bird Brains.
3. Francis Trouble - Albert Hammond Jr.
Designed by: Liz Hirsch
Former Strokes member, Albert Hammond Jr., names his fourth solo record after his stillborn twin, Francis. For the overall concept of the album, Hammond Jr. reportedly took inspiration from the fact that the fingernail of his twin Francis remained in the womb with him until his birth six months later. But instead of taking such grim circumstances too seriously, he gestated toward the idea of characterising Francis in true comic-book style, bringing graphic designer and Strokes collaborator, Liz Hirsch, onboard to help bring him to life.
2. Wide Awake! - Parquet Courts
Designed by: Andrew Savage
Off the back of their fifth studio album, Human Performance (2016), nominated for a Grammy for its artistic packaging, frontman Andrew Savage returns to put his creative spin on the art direction for the band's sixth. Savage's designs span the bands entire full-length discography, from the more photographic style of their debut record, American Specialities (2011), to the sketch-work of their fourth, Content Nausea (2014); Wide Awake!'s design is just another string to the multidisciplinary bow, but his work never wavers the attention of the viewer: "There are so many things in life, memories, sounds, scents that I associate with colour; and for the viewer, I want those colours to manifest the emotions that I put into an artwork."
1. Cocoa Sugar - Young Fathers
Designed by: Tom Hingston, Julia Noni
Graphic designer, Tom Hingston, known for his creative work with musicians on cover art and promotional work, helped to direct the design for the cover for Young Fathers' third studio album, Cocoa Sugar. Alongside photographer, Julia Noni, the pair conjured up a menacingly hypnotic profile shot, striking fast with candy red lips that pop against the subdued palette in the background. Cocoa Sugar acts as the soapbox for Young Fathers' artistic statements and profound sociological commentary.