Vinyl Revival

Our relentless exposure to our digital products has arguably begun to make more and more people crave for a disconnect. At Dawn Creative we place a huge value on the incredible range of tactile and visual pleasures that an area such as print can offer.

Some of my first encounters with the wonders of print came through vinyl records. Last week marked the first time, other than the week of Record Store Day in April, that vinyl sales outstripped digital downloads in terms of value. Vinyl has always offered musicians a platform to engage with their audience on a more visual level and it is great to see incredible examples of this being pushed by those artists with a desire to do more than pump out a generic hit. With this in mind I’ve selected five album covers from 2016 that resonate strongly with me.

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Santigold, 99¢

Photography/Design: Haruhiko Kawaguchi

Of its meaning, Santigold speaking to Complex said, “I represented my life in a bag, which was the idea. All my hard work and my life on sale for 99¢—which we all know is not true, and you can get the record for less than 99¢, for free! People don’t f***ng pay for music, so it’s not even 99¢.” I love the idea behind this cover as well as the aesthetic, and despite the vinyl revival there’s still a great deal of people who don’t seem to place any sort of monetary value on music. Without music or indeed art which often finds itself in the same boat, life would be incredibly dull, shouldn’t people start to pay for things that actually enrich our lives?

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Lone, Leviate

Photography: Andrew George

Art Direction: Konx-om-Pax

Knowing the producer of the record, I’m privy to the importance he places on his artwork. Collaborating again with Konx-om-Pax (whose own album cover ‘Caramel’ features his own brand of Cinema 4D wizardry) the image captures a shimmering liquid reality. Never stopping still and ever changing, the hazy image lends itself perfectly to the music. The distorted, submerged appearance of the inner sleeve gives further weight to the concept and demonstrates that attention to detail doesn’t necessarily stop at the front cover.

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Mark Pritchard, Under the Sun

Design: Jonathan Zawada

In a reflection of the record’s other worldliness, designer Jonathan Zawada created stunning CG landscapes for the album’s artwork and live performances. Images were created using a landscape generation and rendering engine – “the process itself is very non-visual and consists of connecting bunches of mathematical functions together,” according to Zawada. A sleeve that truly captures the essence of the record, often strange – yet striking and beautiful.

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David Bowie, Blackstar

Design: Jonathan Barnbrook

Simplicity in design is often one of the hardest things to achieve. Long time Bowie design collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook has mentioned how the Blackstar artwork was often dismissed for this very reason. The fact is Bowie and Barnbrook have taken the art of sleeve design to another level with an incredible amount of thought and meaning behind a range of print and design intricacies. Barnbook explains, “The idea of mortality is in there, and of course the idea of a black hole sucking in everything, the Big Bang, the start of the universe, if there is an end of the universe. These are things that relate to mortality.” Owners of the album have discovered leaving the gatefold sleeve in the sun, transforms the Blackstar symbol into a field of glowing stars. In a recent interview Barnbrook revealed even now there were further surprises hidden in the artwork that fans are yet to discover that seem to revolve around light and reflection. Even the typeface used – Terminal, appears in a design suite called Lazarus – it seems in so many ways Bowie was expressing to his fans that this his time on this earth was coming to an end. An incredibly enlightening and timeless piece of design with multiple facets.

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Max Cooper, Emergence

Design: Ben Slater

Visuals: Andy Lomas

I’m lucky enough to have known Max from an early stage of his career and it’s great to see someone pushing the boundaries of their profession. As well as his DJ’ing and producing, Max holds a Ph.D in Genetics and blends his craft with a fantastical mixture of his scientific background. The great thing is that the art on the cover on the vinyl is just the tip of the iceberg. The album follows “the story of the development of the universe, the way in which very complex things like human beings were created from the immaterial by the action of simple laws.” The vinyl comes with a booklet of stills from the visual story, and beautiful generative artwork from Andy Lomas’ aggregation series. Each track is attached to a piece of accompanying visual art, each one exploring a different idea of “emergence.” Films are formed from data visualisations, including “waves, spatial dimensionality and the action of the physical forces on matter.” Incredible dedication and attention to detail means there’s so much more than meets the eye with this one.

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