Thursday, March 10, 2016

:wax and wane:

In the continuing archaeology of my belongings, I came across a cache of prints, a 1990 calendar, and other ephemera from the music label 4AD, or more specifically their design arm known as 23 Envelope and eventually just v23. Like the label name itself, I don't think it has any deep meaning.

Back in The Day, mainly from the mid-80s through most of the 90s, they released some truly unique music, and the packaging was no less so. I can honestly say that I bought many of their releases without having any idea what the music sounded like, based solely on the cover art. I don't recall any disappointments, although they did seem to slide into indie-rock territory by the mid-90s, not a bad thing, just not what I was used to from them.

It's difficult to think of a band like Cocteau Twins without the accompanying imagery. And for a band called Lush, both the music and artwork was as well. Sometimes it was quite abstract but even the ones with clearer imagery had an otherworldly tint to them. Which is something that I think is becoming lost in the current age, first the imagery shrinking down to CD box size, then to even tinier, if any artwork at all, for all-digital releases. I suppose the resurgence of vinyl gives some hope, though I've never favored it, but then there's also the growing absence of actual stores in which to peruse the albums themselves. A local retail chain saddens me when with each successive visit, I see the music section has been shrinking smaller and smaller.

It's also worth noting that most of the 4AD work was done pre-digital, or at the very dawn of it, when the process was much slower and more expensive. One had to use film and wait to see the results that developed. It's interesting to read what appeared to be something unearthly was often the most mundane materials. The cover of the "Lonely is An Eyesore" compilation is nothing more than the actual flatbed of the camera setup where surely other covers were created on.

Album art definitely inspired me, and I certainly dreamed of creating some of my own. I found many copies of album covers in my old art files. I did manage to create a few CD covers for real, but not for any major labels.

When choosing shots for Instagram, I seem to largely vary between landscapes and close-up textures. This most recent one below reminded me of the 4AD style and sent me off on the reverie above.