New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies: 1983

image

image

Peter Saville is the brains behind this album cover, or rather his girlfriend is. Whilst looking for a machiavellian painting (to fit the title) at the National Gallery, Peter Saville wandered into the gift shop and picked up a postcard of the painting shown above. His girlfriend came up behind him and questioned whether he was going to use it as the cover and without a shadow of doubt he decided on it there and then.

image

Peter Saville is the creative genius behind the infamous Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures and many other great album covers, but despite how iconic the Joy Division cover is, I still love the Power, Corruption & Lies design more. The way he has taken the colour palette from the image and collated it into a little key in the corner as if to say the artist has painted by numbers or cheated, pointing towards the title of the album.

With one of the best graphic designers in England, it’s hard to go wrong, and Peter Saville has proved his worth once again.

Aphex Twin, Windowlicker: 1999

image

image

We’re all familiar with the creepy Aphex Twin single Windowlicker, and the model’s body with Richard D. James’ head superimposed onto it, which makes it all the more weirder that when you see the real model as she is the one who looks photoshopped. Some have gone as far to say that Richard D. James’ version is hotter, but after watching the video for Windowlicker itself, I am inclined to disagree completely.

No one has any idea who the woman is, which is just as well really, because the infamy of Aphex Twin’s album cover may be a little too overbearing for the model.

The cover itself cannot be faulted, along with the glitch techno music from Richard D. James and the black hip hop video pisstake Chris Cunningham devised, it is the perfect package. Aphex Twin’s creepy smile will haunt you forever after you have experienced the entirety of Windowlicker.

Aphextwin windowlicker from M-Well on Vimeo.

The video was so good, H R Giger took it upon himself to draw one of the characters from it, naming the image “The Windowlickers.”

image

image

This terrifying image sticks in the mind of any person who watches the video, and so does the song.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me: 2013

image

image

The cover for The National’s Trouble Will Find Me incorporates a cropped section of Bohyun Hoon’s work Fragmentation, a piece that has carved sections of mirror placed equally over naked human bodies.

The title of the album matches perfectly with the situation the woman would be in if she wasn’t part of a piece of art, the mirror acting as a guillotine on the cover, with no sense of what is below the top half of her head. The black and white image and the old typewriter style font combine to match the dark, melancholy songs that the National produce, especially on their new album.

image

The album cover is a slight change from their 2007 Boxer, with the text being the predominant component, it suggests a return to their roots and a more down to earth sound compared to their slightly more uplifting 2010 album High Violet.

The song “I Need My Girl” was the promotional song for the 13-track album and as it is the poster track it seems fitting for the picture on the front to be of a woman trapped in a seemingly inescapable trap.

David Bowie – The Next Day: 2013/ Heroes: 1977

image

image

The first album by Bowie in over 10 years and he recycles an old album cover – genius – Bowie wanted to represent “forgetting or obliterating the past” by obscuring the photograph from the 1977 album Heroes, photographed by Masayoshi Sukita. The album was kept as secret as possible, and then a huge campaign, designed by Johnathan Barnbrook exploded all over the walls,the internet, and the papers. The campaign was simple – stick a massive white square over any other musical commercial reading “The Next Day – 03.12.13.” 

image

Some of the images, like those above, were constructed for the campaign a lot more, but the image below is literally forgetting the old and posting the white square over another band’s poster, in this case Foals.

image

I don’t know how happy some of the other bands were, but the hilarious advertising helped the album jump to the number one album spot for the ninth time. The designer Johnathan Barnbrook had the chance to create his third work for Bowie and decided to show off a new font.

image

The font, Doctrine, is a sans-serif font that is clean cut and reads well on both a large and small scale. The font started from the North Korean National Airline livery on the side of the plane and evolved from there. On the packaging it looks extremely professional and not too industrial.

image

The photography of the original Heroes cannot be ignored however, and the photographer Masayoshi Sukita went through multiple shots with Bowie before the perfect one was chosen.

image

Many of the shots look fairly messy and not fit for an album cover, whereas the final shot makes Bowie look extremely on point and is probably one of the most famous pictures of all time. The picture below is my favourite that wasn’t chosen for the album, it is however slightly too similar to the cover of his album Low.

image

The idea of the white square works on all platforms and the vinyl design is as simple as it gets, the white square spinning around on the record player leaving a blurred circle in its wake. The simplicity of the design and the comedic value it carries with it make it a brilliant album cover and the perfect marketing scheme due to its minimalistic thought provoking qualities.

image

∆ Alt-J – An Awesome Wave: 2012 ∆

image

The album cover for Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave looks like a network of psychedelic veins coursing over the front of the cover. The image in fact is called “Gange’s dazzling delta” and was taken by the European Space Agency.

image

The image above shows the image just as it is on google earth – the image used for the album cover is a superimposition of three photographs taken by an Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar on the dates 20/01/09, 24/02/09 and 31/03/09. The colours in the image are created by the differences in each image as there is no colour in a standard radar image.

Another image similar to the one used by Alt-J is the one shown below, which highlights the flooding in Bangladesh, an equally striking image that contains the area that is used on the album cover.

image

As you can see in the highlighted area, the album cover is contained within this separate image that was taken two years earlier on 12/04/07 and 26/07/07. The city of Bangladesh can also be seen at the left corner of the box like a white stain on the image.

The imaged used for the album itself matches perfectly with the music inside with each track flowing through the listeners head as – quite morbidly – the floods did through Bangladesh.

image

The colour combined with the soft faded grey tones of the songlist on the back creates a contrast between the two and separates you from the visual and the practical side of the music, which together won them the Mercury Prize in 2012.

The strange leaf shapes on the songlist at the back seem like separators on the album, but are in fact named tracks, the first being Ripe and Ruin, the second Guitar and the third Piano. The not so secret tracks confuse the listener but are also a pleasant surprise, adding perfect segues into the structure of the album.

image

The indie rock band have continued in this vein and have used bright strokes of colour in the promotion of their new album This Is All Yours that lands in September 2014.

Cabaret Voltaire – Micro-Phonies: Neville Brody 1984

image

image

image

image

The album Micro-Phonies by Cabaret Voltaire was art directed by graphic design heavyweight Neville Brody in 1984. Brody’s infamous typography features on the front and a bandaged figure spouting liquid from the mouth stares blankly at the viewer. Being heavily influenced by the punk movement, his design seems to fit the Dada-inspired and punk-thriving band’s sound and vision.

It wasn’t the first time Brody had worked for the band however, their 1982 album 2×45 had Brody’s design on the cover of the 12″ vinyl release.

image

The rugged industrial style of his design matched the industrial sound the band brought to the world several years earlier.

image

Shown above is a much more colourful cover that Brody designed for the single “James Brown,” that leans slightly more towards the punk movement at the time. His style gels completely with the band because the colours scream out at you in such a way that it isn’t garish but communicative of the way the band want to represent themselves. I couldn’t imagine the album cover looking any other way.

One of the videos from the album, “Sensoria” (shown below), was voted best album by the Los Angeles times in 1985, and the quick-cut crazily trippy video later found its way into the hands of the New York Museum of Modern Art because of it.

Cabaret Voltaire – “Sensoria” from the album Micro-Phonies.

The poster for the album can be seen in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (shown below) an odd choice by the set dressers in such a mainstream film, as the majority of the audience won’t be familiar with the Sheffield band’s music or name, which doesn’t feature in the film other than on this poster in his bedroom.

image