Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Above: Some of my favorite album covers/packages from 2011...

Everywhere you look there seems to be a preponderance of lists for favorite albums, shows, etc, but album art and those responsible for it are largely overlooked. This is unfortunate as it's a creative realm in which a lot of great work is being done, especially in the more underground/left field sectors. This small exhibition is by no means complete - it represents only a small cross section of some of the the great sleeves I've seen in the last year, but it does include some favorites. It should also be noted that some of these were selected because of the strength of the package as a whole, not just the cover - seeking out these actual records to fully appreciate them is certainly something I'd highly recommend (for musical reasons as well!). While some industry folks are heralding the death of the physical record, I'd say that the art of the LP, 7", CD and cassette is more vibrantly alive than ever. Thanks to all of the artists collected here (as well as a great many others), for providing inspiration and further depth to the experience of listening to and enjoying the art of making records. Looking forward to all the great stuff that's assuredly coming in 2012...

From top to bottom (hi-res and back cover images provided where possible - click to enlarge):

Circle "Infektio"
Design: Musta Kirahvi. Illustration: Ville Pirinen.

Mamiffer "Mare Decendrii"
Art/design: Faith Coloccia.

Keiji Haino/Jim O'Rouroke/Oren Ambarchi "In a flash everything comes together as one there is no need for a subject"
Design: Stephen O'Malley. Cover image: Marco Fusinato.

Steel Mammoth "Radiation Funeral"
Design: Jussi Karjalainen. Illustration: Ville Pirinen.

Circle with Erkki Kurenniemi.
Design: Musta kirahvi. Photo: Martii Brandt.

Hive Mind "Elemental Disgrace"
Photography/design: Greh Holger.

Suburbanite s/t 7"
Photography: Arthur Tress. Design: Mark McCoy

Teitanblood "Seven Chalices"
Artwork: Timo Ketola.

Chris Watson "El Tren Fantasma"
Art Direction: Jon Wozencroft. Photo: unknown, courtesy C R Enock, Caminos de Hierro/FNM

Also wanted to acknowledge a few record labels who have consistently great packaging/design (and a lot of great music as well): Crooked Tapes, Youth Attack, Touch, Ideologic Organ, Type, Miasmah, ECM, Taiga, Norma Evangelium Diabloli, Utech, etc.

....and some of the music that greatly enhanced my life in 2011: Horseback - live, Swans - live, Caspar Brotzmann Massaker - all, Christoph Heemann - live, SQRM "Rodeo", Preterite "Pillar of Winds", Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang - live, Sunno)) meets Nurse With Wound "The Iron Soul of Nothing", Arvo Pärt "Kanon Pokajanen", William Fowler Collins "Resurrection" and live, Krzysztof Penderecki "Utrenja/Jutrznia", James Plotkin and Jon Mueller - live, Ascension "Consolamentum", Circle "Infektio", Utech Records Music Festival, Keiji Haino - live, Pale Chalice "Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation", Thou "The Archer and the Owle", Aluk Todolo "Ordre", Tim Hecker "rave Death 1972", Daniel Menche "feral", William Fowler Collins and Gog "Malpais", " Aosoth "III", Early Graves "Goner", Elodie LP, Craft "Void", Hive Mind "Elemental Disgrace", Maryanne Amacher "Sound Characters", Oxbow - live, Converge - live, etc...


Anonymous said...

Great stuff

The Bad Brain Donor said...

I was also greatly impressed with the Radiation Funeral artwork. Ville Pirinen is one of my favorite visual artists. His work on Infektio was quite captivating as well. But, Radiation Funeral (in my opinion) had a much more eye catching color palette and I tend to be drawn to brighter colors. Faith's ash drawing was very impressive, also. Whenever I listen to Mare Decendrii it's great to just stare at the painting and discover new shapes and figures each time I look at it. Not sure if this was her intention or not, but it's still great fun to do while I have the record playing. Thanks for the list, by the way. I didn't know about some of these until seeing this post.


Oliver Cartwright said...


I think my favourite covers from the last decade would be...

Deathspell Omega - Diabolus Absconditus

Khanate - Capture And Release

Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

ISIS - Panopticon

Old Man Gloom - Zozobra

Linkin Park - Meteora

Converge - Jane Doe

The Verve - Forth