HARDHOUND

Klima – Serenades and Serinettes

Author: Colin | Published: 27/11/10

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Klima - Serenades and Serinettes

Artist Klima
Title Serenades and Serinettes
Label Second Language
Year 2010
Design Jeff Teader at Oskar; photography by Glen Johnson
Music Folk-like, melodies, songs
Desktop Download image
Notes Yet another design from Second Language that’s a sheer delight. The basic form is a three pane concertina unfolding upwards from the CD pocket. One side displays the lyrics for each of Klima’s 12 songs, the other images of Angele David-Guillou herself, album credits and thanks. Both are framed by graceful Art Nouveau floral borders that suggest just a hint of triffiditus.

The typography as well as the colour scheme of cream, baby blue and sepia work to great effect, but it’s the extras that makes Serenades and Serinettes a joy. There’s the sheet music pamphlet to By My Side with its chilling lyrics (exclusive to Second Language subscribers), the paper bag the whole thing arrives in and, tucked in with the CD, spied by its blue threads, a thaumotrope to spin while you listen to Klima’s hushed songs.

Buy Serenades and Serinettes or sign up to Second Language’s subscription service.

See also:

- Vertical Integration
- Dollboy – Ghost Stations
- Ghostwriter – The Continuing Adventures Of The Strange Sound Association

Listen Klima – By Your Side

Peter Christopherson has died

Author: Colin | Published: 25/11/10
Previous Cocteau Twins – Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, Aikea-Guinea Next Klima – Serenades and Serinettes

Most famous as a member of Throbbing Gristle and Coil, Peter Christopherson was at one time a partner in Hipgnosis. During his time with the agency, he was responsible for the design and artwork for Peter Gabriel’s first three solo albums. Strikingly minimal in execution, his designs are disturbing and highly memorable images of isolation, anger and pain. They’re as powerful today as when they were first published between 1977 and 1980 and remain personal favourites.

Throbbing Gristle’s website reports that he died peacefully in his sleep.

Cocteau Twins – Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, Aikea-Guinea

Author: Colin | Published: 24/11/10
Previous Plant43 – Burning Decay Next Peter Christopherson has died

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

Artist Cocteau Twins
Title 1-2: Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops; 3-7: Aikea-Guinea
Label 4AD
Year 1-2: 1984; 3-7: 1985
Design 1-2: 23 Envelope. From a photograph by Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934); 3-7: 23 Envelope
Music Cocteau Twins-music
Desktop Download image
Notes 23 Envelope was the nom-de-plume for the partnership of designer Vaughan Oliver and photographer Nigel Grierson between 1983 and 1988.

Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops and Aikea-Guinea are a pair of 12″ singles that date from fairly early in both the Cocteau Twins’ and Oliver’s career. They share a formal elegance, a strong eye for pattern and texture, clear, graceful use of type and an approach to framing embodied in the 4AD logo itself. They’re also quite distinct from other designs for the group, with the exception to some extent of Lullabies.

Each design draws inspiration from the past: one Victorian and the other prehistoric. In subject, they convey a sense of mystery that provides an intuitive visual analogue to the group’s music and, in particular, Elizabeth Fraser’s enigmatic vocals. Gertrude Käsebier’s 1904 photograph, entitled ‘The Magic Crystal’, is a curious combination of swirling movement and silent concentration. The fossil on the reverse of Aikea-Guinea looks a little like a hedgehog curled in upon itself, seeking privacy and/or protection.

The minimalism of Aikea-Guinea’s design is particularly impressive. The front presents a nameplate bearing five unfamiliar words in gold caps against a silvery-black, rock-like texture. The effect is blankly empty. It acts like a closed door which when opened reveals something fascinating within, in this case the imprint of the fossil. The design puts the two sides of the sleeve to subtle, but powerful effect: it first excludes the viewer and then discloses something to her (though that thing, deep history, remains ultimately out of reach). Front or rear viewed in isolation are much less impressive – the design only comes alive when the viewer is aware of both sides.

Finally, the distressed type of the group’s logo is laid with care over the lower part of the fossil at the same time as it floats about the rigid sides of the flattened rectangle which contains the design credit and catalogue release number.

See also:

- Vaughan Oliver

Listen Cocteau Twins – Aikea-Guinea

Plant43 – Burning Decay

Author: Colin | Published: 20/11/10
Previous John L. Walters on music design Next Cocteau Twins – Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, Aikea-Guinea

Plant43 - Burning Decay

Plant43 - Burning Decay

Plant43 - Burning Decay

Plant43 - Burning Decay

Plant43 - Burning Decay

Artist Plant43
Title Burning Decay
Label Ai Records
Year 2010
Design Design: Jason Smith; photographs: Stanislav Markov
Music Techno
Desktop Download image
Notes A lovely, minimal design courtesy of the ever-interesting Ai Records. No text to distract from the sombre images and, as Emile writes below, the transparent vinyl emphasises a chill undercurrent audible in the music.

Emile Facey (Plant43) writes:

When writing music I always have an image or scene in mind which is why I was so happy that Jason Smith at Ai Records was so willing to collaborate with me on the visual aspects of this release. I wanted to find images that encapsulated the tension I feel between the beauty of our natural environment, and my underlying concern for it. After a lot of searching I eventually stumbled across the photography of Moscow based Stanislav Markov (aka Garmonique) whose unique and powerful art spoke loudly to me on this subject.

Jason took these photographs and applied his design magic and a few weeks later we had our finished piece, which was really exciting. I particularly liked the font he used for the 12″ label artwork, it has very subtle hints of the Art Nouveau influenced logos created by graphic artist Roger Dean, who was a big influence on me as a teenager. His choice of clear vinyl seems to match perfectly with the icy feeling of the bleak landscapes in the photos.

Purchase from Ai Records

See also:

- Ai Records (Part 1)
- Ai Records (Part 2)
- Ai Records – 10

Listen Plant43 – Burning Decay preview

John L. Walters on music design

Author: Colin | Published: 18/11/10
Previous Kvitnu Next Plant43 – Burning Decay

Thought provoking piece on the Eye Magazine blog by John L. Walters:

Think about design for music, and record covers spring to mind (…) That’s understandable: graphic design has borne witness to an extraordinary canon of independent work over the past 70 years. But there has always been a multitude of ways to combine sound and music: in an age of digital dissemination and extravagant audiovisual performances, album covers are just one part of a music design story that goes back more than a century, and will continue to be relevant long after records have died.

(…)

The lesson for designers was that design for music was shifting away from products towards … everything else: identity, branding, ‘creative management’, social media, live promotion, video, animation, Web design.

There are certainly more opportunities than ever for music-related design. There doesn’t seem to have been as much digital innovation as might have been expected at this point, though perhaps I haven’t been looking in the right places. In addition to the solitary extant virtual design on Hard Format (Snow Patrol’s A Million Suns app) I plan to cover Ghostly’s brilliant Discovery app in the not too distant future and Eno’s three iPhone apps are characteristically impressive. I’m not sure to what extent the examples that Walters cites are anything new, more a gradual shift in emphasis as music’s availability becomes more pervasive. Posters, videos, costumes, stage shows, t-shirts and programmes are all familiar items to any music fan. The web as a popular medium is more than 15 years old and there’s been little innovation relating to music and design that’s become widespread except for distribution technologies.

It might seem inevitable that I’d disagree with Walters’ observation :-), but I’m blessed to see so much imaginative new work being produced and much of the quality of that work, I believe, is prompted by the changing environment. The persistence, or lack of it, of the ephemeral as signifier for music – an art-form that is by its very nature already transient – would make for an interesting discussion. If the medium is transitory and atomised, shouldn’t its visual associations reflect that – to be true to the medium? For the time being at least, I remain a firm fan of the music object as a primary focus for design.

I also wonder, does the popularity of a medium or even a cultural object necessarily determine its importance or value? Convenience is king and ‘free’ rules.  Even when physical music media become a niche, will it also become culturally insignificant? It may do as creativity reroutes to a wider audience. I think digital and physical media will co-exist together for a long time to come, though the balance will shift increasingly towards the virtual. Hard Format will be happy to promote quality in whatever medium best shows it!

Well worth a read: Time to find some new, meaningful associations between music + design, Eye blog.

Kvitnu

Author: Colin | Published: 13/11/10
Previous Underworld – Barking Next John L. Walters on music design

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Zavoloka

Artist 1-4: Zavoloka; 5-6: Kotra & Zavoloka; 7-8: Kotra; 9: v4w.enko; 10-11: Sturquen; 12-13: Critikal
Title 1-4: Viter; 5-6: Wag The Swing; 7-8: Revolt; 9: Harmonic Ratio; 10-11: Piranha; 12-13: Graphorrhea
Label Kvitnu
Year 2005 – 2010
Design 1-11: Zavoloka; 12-13: Ruslan Palamarchuk
Music Electronic/beats/digital/noise
Desktop Download image
Notes Kvitnu was established by Dmytro Fedorenko in 2006 to distribute and promote new Ukrainian electronic music. The label runs a number of live festivals: Kvitnu Fest, Detali Zvuku festival and a series of smaller events called Kvitnu_live.

Ukraine-based Kateryna Zavoloka is both designer and musician. Her designs are strikingly attractive, ranging from monochromatic to richly colourful. Refusing to be restricted to the standard square/rectangle, Viter extends upwards to a delightful curve while Sturquen’s Piranha ends in a series of suggestive peaks. Viter is also die-cut, its curves and rich yellow and blue embody the phrase picked out on the reverse ‘To inbreathe clear air and warm wind’. Wag The Swing and Revolt are embossed with metallic inks that catch the light. These designs articulate electronic music in ways that diverge significantly from West European and North American design approaches to electronic music.

Dmytro Fedorenko writes:

When in 2006 I was meditating about opening a new label, I was thinking of doing something radical and extremely personal. As much as possible. Radical not in terms of loudness, or shocking designs, or some kind of provocations, but rather as a way of being in a process of building something very unique and, maybe, inner challenging. The idea was not to concentrate on such things as “sound”, or “style”, or “genre”, but to do each new object as something extra special, even if one object may sound or look way different from another. From one hand Kvitnu is, first of all, a music label of course. And each our project always starts with the music. But, as I still believe in presentation of music with physical media, I decided that our cover designs must look as absolutely equal part of each release. Non-compromise maybe. With a big respect to our music and trying to create a complete art object.

Zavoloka writes:

Zavoloka “Viter”
The idea of this design came to me, when I was playing concert on the EME festival in Portugal. This festival was in the old castle Igreja de Santiago de Palmela, which is stands on the mountain, and from there was very beautiful view to the sea and sky. This package is inspired by this evening sky, with strong contrast of yellow and deep blue. Lines are just hint about moving of air and the package consist of two components, the yellow one can be seen through blue cardboard. The title of the album “Viter” means “Wind” in Ukrainian and this work was dedicated to Purification by Air Element, the first one in the series.

Kotra & Zavoloka “Wag The Swing”
This concept was based on the swinging and moving of abstract simple shapes with bright, strong colours and golden foil which represents the concept of the music. I wanted this graphic to be structured and distorted in the same time. Me and Kotra were fighting and arguing a lot about this package, but in the end I think it is the most beautiful release from Kvitnu.

Kotra “Revolt”
This work is about internal revolution and light. The circle is a symbol of Sun. Red, red foil. I was inspired by Trypillian ancient ritual symbols, that people draw on ceramics. This package is like totem.

v4w.enko “Harmonic Ratio”
The idea was to transmit strong graphics from V4w.enko into 3 dimensions, to add texture and shape to 2d graphics. We used matt cardboard and black foil stamping, special die cut with other secret ingredients, to add the warm physical feeling into cold abstract b/w graphics.

Sturqen “Piranha”
This package was designed in collaboration with Sturqen. The die cut and graphics are based on a pure abstract and sharp forms, depth in shape and in color.

Listen Zavoloka – Exhale
Next Page »