Cover art

One of the lovely things about being involved with a small record label is that the job titles aren’t clearly defined. I do know that can be a cause of major stress in some jobs, usually when people take advantage of the vagueness to pile loads of extra work and responsibility onto people who neither want, are paid, or are compensated for, but in my case it’s not like that. Essentially, my role is to do anything I can to help increase the profile of the label, the acts, and the music. Sometimes that means answering the phone and making the coffee, other times it means sending endless promopacks out to entities that could be anything from five-views-a-day bloggers through to the head reviewer at the NME. Actually, on a related note, we won’t be sending anything to any Bauer Media titles (Mojo, Q) for the foreseeable future due to the shitty treatment they’re dealing out to their roster of freelance writers, but that’s another day’s topic. Anyway, where was I? Right, yes, vinyl.

Our plan for the next couple of months here is to start releasing a constant feed of four-track EPs, each on a double 12-inch vinyl format, in a gatefold sleeve. We might back those releases up with digital versions, perhaps not. Haven’t fully decided on that one. My heart says vinyl only, my head says vinyl and digi. Nevertheless, it puts me within reach of doing something which I have yearned to do for decades – designing the cover of a twelve-inch record. We did have an in-house designer for a while, a really good one. The little green strip of SubMachena art that I’ve included above  is his work. Circumstances owing more to this flipping endless global economic downturn than any particular BlancoMusic issues, have led to that particular designer no longer being available, which is a bit of a pity, but we go on, adapt, etc. What it does mean is that I get to have a stab at creating some artwork myself.

I’m not absolutely new to this. I did art-direct at a stock photography company about a decade ago. Yeah, that’ll help…. Anyway, look, if I can’t manage to come up with something decent, we’ll get someone in to do it for us, but I’m sure as hell going to have a try. Album art is such a crucible of iconography, with such extremely trackable results. It’s not so much that a great cover will contribute to a record’s success, but a stinker will definitely pull a good record down. One of the great losses wrapped up in the whole music 2.0 movement is the scrunching down of an album cover into something that has to be recognisable on the screen of an iPod. All the same, there is a certain miniature beauty to the ones that can take such treatment. It does change the parameters though. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, once considered the most iconic album cover of all time, does not work at all on an iPod. Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures or the Velvet Underground’s Andy Warhol work just fine. Essentially though, the trick is to come up with something that reflects what the music and the act want to have reflected about themselves. That’s what I want to ask you about. Have a listen to the song on this link:

Does is bring any pictures to mind? A font, a colour, a shape? I’d be really interested to know if you can break down those little synaptic walls we all have between those sensory bits of our brain that work hard making sure we don’t go around smelling colours and hearing textures. If you can do so, let me know, I’d appreciate the input.


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