HARDHOUND

Engadget: Apple, record labels reportedly working to spur album sales with interactive goodies

Author: Colin | Published: 27/7/09

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Apple has reportedly joined forces with EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group in a project that’s being codenamed “Cocktail.” Financial Times is reporting that said initiative is considering adding “interactive booklets, sleeve notes and other interactive features with music downloads,” with one executive familiar with the situation saying that “it’s not just a bunch of PDFs; there’s real engagement with the ancillary stuff.”

Apple, record labels reportedly working to spur album sales with interactive goodies.

Miles Davis – Tutu

Author: Colin | Published: 25/7/09
Previous Miles Davis – Pangaea Next Engadget: Apple, record labels reportedly working to spur album sales with interactive goodies

Miles Davis, Tutu

Miles Davis, Tutu

Miles Davis, Tutu

Miles Davis, Tutu

Miles Davis, Tutu

Artist Miles Davis
Title Tutu
Label Warner Bros Records
Year 1986
Designer Photographs by Irving Penn, art concept and design by Eiko Ishioka, design by Susan Welt
Music Jazz/not jazz
Notes Tutu was yet another Miles Davis album that set the cat among the pigeons. The purists were appalled by the synthetic textures and the lack of interaction between performers. The music was bold and modern and a step further on from the likes of the already modern Decoy and You’re Under Arrest. The cover reflects all of that and then some. 23 years on and this cover looks super modern to these eyes. Irving Penn’s photography is incredible: stark, bold and fearless just like his subject.

I love the typeface used for all of the titling, its angularity perfectly suits the music. Also striking, though perhaps a little less successful are the stickers which are applied vertically on the left side of the front and back outside cover. They’re stickers and not printed directly onto the sleeve. The colours are also great: the vivid red almost defiantly offsets and emphasises the black and white portrait. Likewise the lilac inner sleeve.

£6 in a Berwick Street record shop. I bought the original on tape, then bought the CD, have had it on mp3 for years and now back to the original and greatest version, the 12″ vinyl. It’s the only place to really experience the greatness of this design.

Miles Davis – Pangaea

Author: Colin | Published: 18/7/09
Previous Miles Davis – Agharta Next Miles Davis – Tutu

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Artist Miles Davis
Title Pangaea
Label CBS/Sony Inc Japan
Year 1975
Designer Art work: Teruhisa Tajima, photographs: Tadayuki Naitoh
Music Acid funk and then some more
Notes Agharta’s sister-work, Pangaea is a fascinating opportunity to hear the differences and similarities between two concerts recorded on the same day by Miles Davis’ last great electric jazz group. Though the design is less subtle than Agharta, I particularly like the front cover photography.

See also: Miles Davis, Agharta

Miles Davis – Agharta

Author: Colin | Published: 11/7/09
Previous A Journey Round My Skull: To have ventured outside the limits of your own perimeters Next Miles Davis – Pangaea

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Miles Davis - Agharta

Artist Miles Davis
Title Agharta
Label CBS/Sony Inc Japan
Year 1975
Designer Artwork: Tadanori Yokoo, photographers: Tadayuki Naitoh, Shigeo Anzai
Music Acid funk and then some
Notes One of my absolute favourites in terms of music and design.

Agharta was Miles’ penultimate release before retirement from performance and public view for more than five years. Agharta and its sister Pangaea are concert performances recorded on the same day, afternoon and evening. Davis had assimilated the radical, jump-cut editing his long-time producer Teo Macero had wrought in the studio and imposed structural change in the moment on his band with coded musical signals and hand gestures. Each performance begins with incredible vigour (attributable in no small part to Pete Cosey’s scorched earth guitar), navigates switch-back turns of extemporised funk and acid melody before ultimately descending into silence via passages of Sun Ra-like hand percussion. Both double albums are fantastic voyages into the unknown, sounding as alien and bewitching today as the day they were recorded.

Tadanori Yokoo’s artwork perfectly encapsulates Miles’ music: technicolour trips through sub-aquatic cities peopled by divers, spaceships, coral and beautiful women on the outside cover while inside angels are picked off by huge birds. I particularly love the artist/title text as spaceship taking off against the red dawn. Would the cover be as great without the amazing music? Of course, not, but nor would the music without this cover… The American version of the cover is also interesting, but more mundane than this fantastical creature.

Tadanori Yokoo’s work is fantastic and well worth checking out:

A Journey Round My Skull post
Pink Tentacle: Music and film posters
Wikipedia entry

A Journey Round My Skull: To have ventured outside the limits of your own perimeters

Author: Colin | Published: 9/7/09
Previous Scott Walker – The Drift Next Miles Davis – Agharta

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The illustration blog A Journey Round My Skull has just published a must visit gallery of wonderful cover imagery. The example above is Kemialliset Ystävät, insert for Latvasta Laho cd.

Visit: A Journey Round My Skull

Scott Walker – The Drift

Author: Colin | Published: 4/7/09
Previous Bonafide magazine does good cover Next A Journey Round My Skull: To have ventured outside the limits of your own perimeters

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Artist Scott Walker
Title The Drift
Label 4AD
Year 2006
Designer Vaughan Oliver at v23, design assistance: Chris Bigg at v23
Music Darkness, leavened occasionally by the blackest of humour
Notes Other than my copy of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn in the previous but one post, this record is probably my other most treasured piece of vinyl. The Drift was released on record only as a promotional item and as it’s one of my all-time desert island selections, I’m very grateful to the designer Vaughan Oliver for giving it to me. The cover and accompanying booklet successfully reflect the darkness of the music they presage. With themes including Balkan genocide, the fate of Mussolini’s lover Clara Petacci, the twin towers and Elvis Presley’s still-born twin brother, it’s difficult to read the darkened textures as anything other than blood-stained walls.

I realise it’s pretty much a truism, but the design is immeasurably better served by the scale of the 12″ format than the CD package (which I also own). Vaughan expressed a degree of frustration at the degree to which his design was circumscribed by Scott Walker. Given the expressive freedom of so much of Oliver’s work, that’s understandable. His approach is hugely impressive all the same: the typography and layout are formally impressive and the muted colours are striking -  particularly the gold and pale blue against the darkened background.

The layout of the lyrics is by Scott Walker, and is the same approach seen on his previous masterpiece, Tilt. The spindly, tall lines suggest something intensely honed, eked out against the lure of silence (a decade, give or take a few years, divides each of Scott Walker’s last three albums). Dare I say they suggest Giacometti figures? Well I did! The photography is also worthy of note, simultanously touching upon Scott and suggesting disintegration, intensity and alienation.

The only slightly discordant note is struck by Ian Penman’s essay which is unforunately at once hagiographic and rather prosaic. Ultimately, singing Scott Walker’s praises is tremendously superfluous: you will either be immensely moved or alienated by The Drift.

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