Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Interpol Album Cover

One thing I've noticed about this particular class is that there is a lot of homework.  This afternoon, I thought to myself "I have a few hours of free time, I should do some homework!".  Having oodles of things to do--reading, blogging, designing, writing, scouring for the perfect show and tell example-I decided to do nothing as the classic procrastinator that I am.  Deciding that this was a bad idea, I left the confines of my apartment to go to my local coffee shop thinking that the motivation would come along with the change in environment.  I was wrong...  Why is it that I don't have the energy to do homework today?

For those of you who don't know me very well, when I'm not in class, doing homework, or at my job, I like to write album reviews for the online publication Verbicide Magazine.  This morning, struggling to make a deadline of noon today, I wrote up a review to Interpol's newest self-titled release (very brief synopsis: If you like Interpol, you'll really like this album.  If you don't like Interpol, you still won't like them. If you've never really listened to them, there's probably a reason for that and you probably won't like this album).  One thing I did not mention in the review was my thoughts on their cover art:

It's generally viewed as kind of odd when a band releases a self-titled album as late into their career as this one comes (Interpol is Interpol's fourth studio release since 2000).  The reason that the band decided to go self-titled this time around was that this was their most ambitious album to date, and they just could not come up with a title that embraced the feeling of all of the songs.  A cop out? Maybe.  But who's to judge? Everyone seems to conveniently forget that the Beatles' White Album is self titled, and that came out pretty late in their career. 

Anyway, I thought that this album cover was interesting as it shows the band's name/album title in a deconstructed fashion.  The dark, metallic colors that are used are indicative of the dark and futuristic tone of the music presented throughout the album.  Maybe the name being blasted to bits is indicative of how the bands' sound is changing on this album.  Preconceived notions of what this album might sound like may be blasted into equal bits upon hearing it for the first time.  Who knows? I like it and think its' interesting.  While critics of the band love to hate everything about them (see here), I for one don't think this cover art is total rubbish.  I like it and think it's interesting. There you go.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello Kitty

I have to say as silly as it sounds, one of my biggest design inspirations is Hello Kitty.  Simple, versatile, and timeless Hello Kitty is not only an ingenious work of design, she is also a brand in and of herself.  You can make anything a Hello Kitty (fill in the blank) just by putting her face on it and it will always be instantly cute.  I even have a Hello Kitty Fender guitar (and toaster, coffee mug, bathrobe, alarm clock, etc.).  Pure genius.  I'm sure there's plenty of haters out there (there always are) but come on--how can you look at this face and not feel just a little bit happy:


In the spirit of integrating words, images, and sound, I thought that a fun thing to do with this blog would be to regularly spotlight a different band or musical artist that represents themselves visually in an interesting or intriguing way. 

Specimen #1: Spiritualized

Known for their epic soundscapes and emotionally stirring lyrics, Spiritualized are in a class of their own.  Fusing shoegaze, jazz, rock 'n roll, and even gospel, the five-piece Brit band broke down the genre classifications long ago.  Fronted by Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), he remains the lone original member since the band's formation in 1990.

Coming to the forefront of the music scene in 1997 with their second full-length release, Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating in Space, Spiritualized also began their collaboration with the design firm Farrow Design.  The pairing of Pierce's vision with Farrow's innovative spirit inspired a number of celebrated album designs, breaking the barriers of traditional cover art and taking it into the realm of package design.

For Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating in Space, the bands' 1997 hallmark album whose subject matter mostly concerns recovery from a broken heart, the design was inspired by the packaging of prescription drug packets, the compact disc being found in one of the bubbles packs.  The bands' logo designed for this album, which includes the registered trademark sign, is still carried out in their designs today, keeping a visual consistency throughout their catalog.

The follow-up to Ladies and Gentleman..., 2001's Let it Come Down, also became a well-known album treatment in the design world. Removing the conventional jewel case once again, the disc was placed in a white plastic packaging featuring a relief of a futuristic looking girl with ponytails, with the band's name and album title embossed on the back.  The cardboard sleeve of the disc, also white, contained the embossed track listing with the album's necessary information printed in a pale grey on the opposite side.

The design aesthetic based on the themes of futurism and pharmaceutical products that Farrow had  established for Spiritualized has continued to be carried through throughout the band's twenty-year career.

This past year saw the reissue of Ladies and Gentleman... for a tour in which the band played the album in its' entirety backed by an orchestral horn and string section along with a gospel choir. Of course you can't have a reissued album without a redesign, and in true Spiritualized and Farrow fashion, it was not a disappointment:

Although now twenty years in, Spiritualized's career is far from over and we look forward to not only hearing the aural innovations that Pierce and company continue to produce year after year, but also we  to the always intriguing design collaborations between Spiritualized and Farrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


They say everyone marches to the beat of their own drummer.  This blog is an attempt at expressing my beat in a digital format-a blog! Here you will find my thoughts and adventures in the integration of words, images, and also sound.  

As a student of UB's publication design program, I have developed quite the passion for writing and design, looking at the world with fresh eyes everyday.  Coming from a musical background, I am highly influenced and inspired by the world of sound and try to integrate this love into my work whenever I can.  I hope you will join me on this exciting adventure!