F.C. Judd – Electronics Without Tears

Author: Colin | Published: 29/1/12

F C Judd

F C Judd

F C Judd

F C Judd

F C Judd

Artist F.C. Judd
Title Electronics Without Tears
Label Public Information
Year 2011
Design Optigram
Music Electronic
Notes This is a fine inaugural album release for new label Public Information. Mining a vein also being explored by the likes of Jonny Trunk and Ghost Box, Electronics Without Tears contains 35 tracks by an almost forgotten pioneer of early electronic music. It’s an endearing release replete with the gentle tones of Judd himself. Although the project initially had me wondering whether it was an elaborate hoax along the lines of recent Jan Jelinek releases, this exchange on the Radio Banter community board had me convinced otherwise.

The fine op-art-esque design is by the highly talented Optigram who I’m looking forward to featuring more of here soon. The abstract motif is appropriately redolent of speaker baffles and wave patterns. It also suggests something hidden, just beyond identification.

Also Daphne Oram, Oramics


Author: Colin | Published: 23/1/12
Previous Led Zeppelin – Presence Next F.C. Judd – Electronics Without Tears

YEARS from Bartholomäus Traubeck on Vimeo.

Via BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow:

This music — which sounds like a moody piano soundtrack for a existentialist movie about a rainy day — is made by slicing a tree in cross-section, sticking it on a turntable, and dropping a tone-arm with a PlayStation Eye Camera in the head, and processing its output through Ableton Live. It’s called Years, and it was created by Bartholomäus Traubeck.

Led Zeppelin – Presence

Author: Colin | Published: 22/1/12
Previous Cocteau Twins – Lullabies to Violaine Next Beautiful

Led Zeppelin - Presence

Led Zeppelin - Presence

Led Zeppelin - Presence

Led Zeppelin - Presence

Led Zeppelin - Presence

Artist Led Zeppelin
Title Presence
Label Swan Song Records
Year 1976
Design Hipgnosis and Hardie
Music Heavy rock
Notes I was a big Zep fan. I still am, though less actively so these days. There I sat in or near the back row of the local Odeon watching The Song Remains The Same for the umpteenth time while soaking in the fragrant smell of weed smoked surreptitiously in the darkness. I love every Zep album, but Presence always seemed their most intriguing. That impression certainly had something to do with the enigmatic illustration that adorned the gatefold sleeve – as well as the extended majesty of tracks like Achilles Last Stand.

I vaguely recall hearing it declared by a party connected to Hipgnosis or the band that it was easy enough to work out what the ‘object’ represented. Colour me dense. Perhaps someone will enlighten me. Except I prefer not knowing if it really is explicable. It’s always struck me as a very modern design: absolutely no type except on the spine. Just ten beautifully composed stock images of couples, individuals, families, teenagers et al engaged in relationships with a black as pitch, somewhat phallic object.

Also Designer page: Hipgnosis
Peter Gabriel – 1

Cocteau Twins – Lullabies to Violaine

Author: Colin | Published: 8/1/12
Previous Ai Records – Farewell to Goodbye Next Led Zeppelin – Presence

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

Ai Records – Farewell to Goodbye

Author: Colin | Published: 1/1/12
Previous Zavoloka – Vedana Next Cocteau Twins – Lullabies to Violaine

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Ai Records - final release

Artist Various
Title Time To Exit
Label Ai Records
Year 2011
Design Jason Smith
Music Electronic
Notes It’s sad to see Ai calling it a day, it’s been a real pleasure to highlight their work here on Hard Format. Still, Jason’s reference to his new endeavour, RUR, raises hopes of further visual/musical delights to come.

Ai032LP: Time To ExitAi records is celebrating its 52nd release with a very special release. New music by ERP, Datassette, EOC, Najem Sworb, Plant43, Pathic, Sinner DC + one new signing. Three different hand screen-printed versions of this release are available. Fifty Two copies of each version will be made.

1. Brown card sleeve – with red/ clear marble vinyl record
2. Light grey card sleeve – with white / clear marble vinyl record
3. Reverse board sleeve – card with black / clear marble vinyl record

Take your pick, or take all three.

The project was started in September 2010. The idea of the release was all about the birth / death / spring / hibernation / theme. It was to be released during the Chinese new year / which also happened to be the year of the rabbit. These elements all came together nicely. ROA was consulted in September 2010 about my ideas and we worked together on some ideas for the sleeve. It was then decided the interactive 3d decaying hand screen printed rabbit was the way forward. So the lengthy process of manufacturing the records and hand screen printing the sleeves twice. Begun…….

Then when it was released no one knew of its significance.

As inside was a press release telling the people who brought the record the sad news.

This is what came inside the record.

Interview with Jason Smith

What made you set up Ai in the first place?

Airecords was set up in 1999 by three friends – all designers – who shared a love for electronic music. We all went into the studio to record some tracks, cut, manufactured and self distributed this release. The release got great reviews and sold out in a few days.

What did you want to achieve and do you think you did so?

We never set out to achieve anything. We just wanted to put out good music, wrapped in good design. I think we definitely achieved that.

Did you have any particular inspirations design-wise for the label?

A very early reference point for me were some amazing slides that tDR made for the newly opened Warp records night in Finsbury park. (Blech).

What was your worst experience running the label?

As Ai is all about great music with innovative package design we push our manufacturers with different techniques we want to try. Because of this the manufacturing v release date process can be extremely stressful…

What was your best?

Too many to name just one. Heres some of my faves..

* The first time I ever walked into a club and heard my record being played to thousands of people. Amazing..
* When I took over sole ownership of Ai I started to really push great design and music collaborations.
* Djing at the last ever Ai party on the Sunday of sonar this year in Barcelona.

Favourite releases?

Ai015LP – Ai022LP – Ai032LP. I like to test and try out new things with vinyl..

Why are you folding now?

After 12 years of great releases. I thought it a good time to stop and try something different. I wanted the last release to pay homage to Ai’s heritage but also point to the next chapter. This project took about a year to plan and was definitely a good one to bow out on..

Do you think there’s still a place for records in the future?

There is still a credible place for records in the music industry. Vinyl has survived this far despite the record shops, record labels, marketing, the downloader’s, piracy and the rapidshare doing their best to kill it off. Music packaging is where music, art, design and fashion meet. It would be a tragedy if this creative platform is lost.

Any music-related plans for the future?

After taking a year off music to enjoy my oldest hobby – Graffiti – I’ve begun the next phase… working on my new label RUR. Four releases by four amazing artists.


Listen Farewell to Goodbye by EOC


Also Ai Records (Part 1)
Ai Records (Part 2)
Ai Records – 10
Plant43 – Burning Decay