Cocteau Twins – Lullabies to Violaine

Author: Colin | Published: 8/1/12

Artist Cocteau Twins
Title Lullabies to Violaine
Label 4AD
Year 2005
Design Art direction and design by Vaughan Oliver at V23. Assisted by Chris Bigg. Images by Roger Newbrook.
Music Ethereal
Notes Cocteau Twins came to prominence in my teenage years. Though some of my contemporaries were huge fans, they weren’t quite my thing. So, apart from purchases of a few 12″s a while back (see the ‘Also’ section below for links), Lullabies was my first acquisition on CD. I bought it initially for the design, but as has so often been my experience with Hard Format, it represented an opportunity to properly listen to music I might not otherwise have paid enough attention to.

Lullabies to Violaine is subtitled ‘Singles and Extended Plays 1982-1996’. It’s a truly beautiful design courtesy of a designer who specialises in a form of beauty that often shades into darkness. Here, what initially appears pretty gradually suggests something sea-like, organic like the dissected traces of a sea creature laid out upon a cool white laboratory surface: wounds, spores, things multiplying, captured just for a moment in the process of decay. The outer semi-transparent sleeve might be thought of like the opaque glass of a cabinet in which such specimens are stored.

I’m afraid my photographs can’t do this design justice. It has to be touched and examined, the silver text on the sleeve is sometimes almost invisible and has to be angled just right to catch the light and become legible. The card stock has a furry, almost skin-like texture that one wants to stroke just for the sensation of it. If you can get hold of a copy I recommend you do so.

Also Cocteau Twins, Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, Aikea-Guinea
Designer page: Vaughan Oliver


  1. How odd. I was just listening to this compilation this morning!

    Comment by Bruce — January 8, 2012 @ 8:45 pm
  2. That is! Particularly as I’ve been had these photos ready months ago and only just did this post on impulse…

    Comment by Colin — January 8, 2012 @ 10:39 pm
  3. Beautiful, I have the original Treasure Box (I think it was called?) set from many years ago but it’s nothing like a stunning as this. Vaughn Oliver and Chris Bigg are the masters when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Comment by kevin foakes — January 10, 2012 @ 10:19 am
  4. Great piece of impulse posting Colin.

    This is one of Vaughan Oliver’s greatest later designs.

    The only thing missing from the inside art are representations of the original 12″ designs, which are, in themselves, great pieces of art.

    Comment by Conrad — January 10, 2012 @ 7:07 pm
  5. What lovely things you have said about my images, thank you. As a fan of Cocteau Twins since the mid 1980’s, it was a real honour when Vaughan asked if he could use them for Lullabies to Violaine.

    Comment by Roger — January 25, 2012 @ 9:28 pm
  6. Hello Roger, it’s a pleasure! Glad to feature your work.

    Comment by Colin — January 29, 2012 @ 11:59 pm
  7. Hey, am glad to see this beautiful package on the site. The only thing I’d like to say is that it’s called «Singles and Extended Plays», not «Subtitles…». It’s just typo, I know :)

    Comment by Alexey — March 11, 2012 @ 9:02 pm
  8. Thanks for pointing that out. Now corrected.

    Comment by Colin — March 15, 2012 @ 7:55 am


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