Apr. 20 Reviews / Your favorite packaging / artwork

3 new podcasts this week, along with the regular reviews. Now that they've been up for a couple weeks, does anyone have any other comments on them? Good? Bad?

Although this question doesn't work quite as well without the artwork immediately at hand, I thought we could discuss packaging and artwork this week (thanks for the suggestion Richie).

So, what's some of your favorite packaging/artwork on a CD or album that you own?

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Jon
After all the talk of time-lag I just couldn't help but to get that Painting Petals on Planet Ghost album...not here yet, but I wait with glee!

Stephen
Like others here, my vote would go towards Deathprod's boxset. The packaging fits the mood of the whole release perfectly.

greg
I second the praise for Time-Lag, Root Strata and Digitalis.
D.I.Y. never looked better. cheers to them for putting in the extra effort

*ning
constellation is mentioned several times, i especially like the embossed metal-printings on some of their packages - very beautiful are also the cardbord-sleeves of the first two scenic albums

Bubbachups
Concerning the Islands album; I can certainly see why people are very enthusiastic about this album, because the songs are cleverly constructed and very catchy or as you said a great deal of fun. But I donít see myself listening to this album at all near the end of the year. For me this is one of those albums that are nice for a couple of days Ė or repeated listening during a long trip Ė but after that it kind of burns out. Like the second the Shins album. Maybe itís too catchy for me.

Now for me the Et Ret album in the long run is much more interesting. Iíd never heard of this album before so thanks for pointing me in this direction. Itís full of atmosphere, a very mellow version of Dirty Three indeed. It probably wonít end up in my top 10 list but it definitely is a charming album thatís worth seeking out like you said.

greg
VHF label has been doing some really nice packaging lately too. Standouts that come to mind are Pelt - Untitled, Makoto Kawabata INUI 1, and of course that first Flying Saucer Attack with the sunset. This label has been consistently great for like 15 years now.

marshall
certainly constellation and most alien8 releases I have as well.

as for specific album covers:

godspeed: lift your skinny fists
the new talkdemonic record (which is really amazing by the way)
clogs: stick music

Elwin Rijken
I just love the album and package of
Arvo Pärt's Te Deum.
It's serenic white, with in grey a texture, which is the roof of a Eslandic church (the one where this album is recorded.)
The package is twice the thickness of a normal CD package, because it contains a booklet the size of a (standard) plastic cd package.
That little book contains nice black/white photography of the church, the orchestra and Arvo himself.
It's all very honest and transcending.
Lovely mood.

Carl Kirby
Maybe to collate the wondrous mixed mode electronic castings into a kind of easily accessible receptacle; a xml feed for example

: :: : .k
[favorite packaging/artwork on a CD or album that you own?]
>Sparklehorse_Good Morning Spider
>Wilco_Being There [happy 10th!]
>Radiohead_Amnesiac book
>Testface_Doctor Won't You Get Us To Dawn
>most records Molasses have put out (Alien8), esp. 'A Slow Messe'.

Jean-Rene S.
I agree with all buddies who mention Constellation' releases; pretty consistent nice packaging troughout their entire catalog. Nevertheless if i had to name only one packaging, it would be the Deathprod 4 CDs boxset, all black, looking like the monoliths in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 : a space odyssey. Furthermore the black hole aspect of this thing gives a very good indication of the effect of Deathprod's music : feeling absorbed in a giant vortex devoid of light and landmarks.

Noname
I'm not very fan of packaging and don't care at all lost from LP to CD. But to take an example, I found Emery Reel "...For And Acted Upon Through Diversions" to be both quite elegant and original, well the best is how great is the music inside. :-)

David
I second what's been said before with Sigur Ros' Takk, and most Constellation records. However, my favourite piece of artwork recently has been Andrew Bird's mysterious production of eggs.

Bubbachups
Whoops, meant to say Painting Petals On Planet GHOST. That's even more mysterious. ;-)

Bubbachups
Pretty much what Slick and Mr. Noname said! I'm a sucker for handmade packaging and Time-Lag Records is pretty much the best there is. I'm lucky enough to have a shop around the corner that stocks Time Lag releases so I have no problem getting my hands on their extraordinary vinyl releases. I would buy them just for the packaging but the music they put out is equally great. The packaging of one of their latest releases Painting Petals On Planet Earth is pure hardcore! That must be my favourite handmade vinyl packaging.

The rest of Slick and Mr. Nonameís lists is also very much recommended by me. Accidentally I just received a couple of MusicYourMindWillLoveYou CD-Rs today (Animal Speak and Abraxas) with the most lovely packaging. For me the artwork and the packaging add so much to the whole experience of listening to music so these kinds of handmade releases make me very excited.

Sometimes I even buy an album just because of the artwork or the packaging. Two weeks ago I bought Moonlight Farm by Jakob Olausson which is released on De Stijl. Never heard of the guy but the artwork looked so stunning on that big vinyl cover that I just had to buy it. Luckily enough the music itself was surprisingly good. :-)

My favourite CD-R release is the debut EP by Elliott Brood. A Canadian death country band that put out a stellar collection of songs with the most amazing packaging. Itís one of those small format CD-Rs, packaged in a small, black, handmade, book-bound sleeve with some pictures and drawings in it. The little book itself is packaged in a small brown paper bag. Itís gorgeous! Another favourite is the Golden Oaks & Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood Split CR-R.

almostcool
Jon below mentioned the Set Fire To Flames, and I'll just go ahead and state that like Constellation, just about everything on the Alien8Recordings/Fancy label out of Canada is outstanding in terms of packaging. A special note should be paid to all three of the Molasses releases. Somewhat hit-or-miss in terms of music, the packaging is among the best I've ever seen on a CD release. Beautiful printing on beautiful paper. Amazing little pieces of art, really.

For a couple releases there (self-titled and the frosty, embossed case of EP7), Autechre had some pretty nice use of simple packaging that really seemed to fit their sound output. At times, Warp (and the Designers Republic) have done some pretty outstanding stuff together.

In terms of artwork, several of the new Kranky releases (Windy And Carl and Keith Fullerton Whitman especially) have been emblazoned with really gorgeous photography that only heightens my appreciation for the releases.

Kristian
Pretty much anything by William Schaff (Okkervil River, My Morning Jacket, Songs: Ohia, Godspeed, Dreamend)

malcom
I agree with many of the items below (radiohead, bjork, constellation stuff, rachel's). I can't believe nobody has jumped up and vigourously espoused the space benefits of LP artwork. Numerous very sweet, large double spreads with old vinyl packaging some from people you might not even expect (elton john for instance had some sweet artwork). have to give props to the Dead Kennedy's for the frankenchrist cover with insert poster shenanigans
also Talking Heads fear of music with the raised bumps.
can I get a hell yeah for Sgt Peppers?
Yoko Ono's Season of glass gives me the chills everytime
the early Pixies covers/artwork was great
and don't forget the Joy Division/other factory records stuff

Sam
Sigur Rós - Takk (special edition) has really gorgeous packaging. Another one that springs to mind is Kid A is also stunning.... Can't think of anymore off the top of my head though

Michael
I think "In The Court of the Crimson King" by King Crimson has got to be the greatest album cover ever. But more recently Sigur Ros' () album packaging totally compliments the music

Neil
4AD, especially the deluxe/foldout/multi-gatefold vinyl edition of "Lonely Is An Eyesore". The 23 Envlope/v23 is always worth a second look, but I also like the cover of "Bird Wood Cage" by The Wolfgang Press.
Again, the work of Constellation is often absolutely stunning.
Another favourite cover is that of "Sulk" by The Associates.
Unfortunately, because of space issues, I have had to put all my CDs in clear plastic sleeves, and put all the covers and cases in boxes in the bedroom and attic, so I'm having trouble remembering any more at the moment.

peter
Oh! The Mort Aux Vaches series by Staalplaat (formerly of Amsterdam, now in Berlin). It may not always be beautiful, but damned if it is not an experience itself and worth the $20+ for the releases.

mr. noname
I'll have to agree with Slick esp. about Time-Lag. Every release by them is highly sought after so if you're interested get on their mailing list because their releases sell out quickly esp. the vinyl.
Here's some more with links...

Celebrate Psi Phenomenon (mr. Birchville Cat Motel's label) http://www.cpsip.co.nz/

Eclipse Records (as good as Time-Lag but I think it's vinyl-only)
http://www.eclipse-records.com/news.html

Free Porcupine Society (gorgeous silkscreens for cd packaging)
http://www.freeporcupinesociety.com/

Wholly Other (Tom Carter from Charalambides label)
http://www.wholly-other.com/

ehbenoit
well, i admit to being a 4ad fan as well, when i would buy their records in the 80's it really felt like you were buying something very special that was beyond just the music, it was a whole package in the broadest of terms.

however, i will never forget the soviet france records, from 82 and on, either... when they would hand package things between pieces of hessian, creosote soaked fabrics, asphalt shingle, tin, pieces of hardboard, tissue, ceramic boxes with feathers and sticks, etc. not to mention that they were the finest example of ambient-noise that so many people champion these days with barely an ounce of regard for them, nocturnal emissions, hafler trio and non to name a few, but that is another topic... regardless, brilliant packaging from a likewise brilliant group of individuals.

TCC
Oops - sorry for the double posting!

slick
Well, a few labels get lot's of respect from me for getting their hands dirty and making really special objects instead of sending it off to a manufacturer. Here's the cream of the crop...
1. Time-Lag Records
2. Root Strata
3. Digitalis
4. MusicYourMindWillLoveYou
5. Constellation (before they went the manufactured route)
I'll think of some more.

These labels have thoroughly carried out the artistic process and truly understand what D.I.Y. really means!! Give 'em some business...
http://time-lagrecords.com/
http://rootstrata.com/
http://www.digitalisindustries.com/rec_index.html
http://mymwly.blogspot.com/

TCC
I have to agree with your sentiments regarding 4AD, which, of course, was the first thing that popped into my head when I read this new posting topic. Vaughan Oliver's work is truly stunning - especially when combined with the graphic work of Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake. Yum. I would add the early Factory Records to that list as well; Peter Saville had some amazing ideas for packaging design - Especially in regards to the group Section 25, who had a 7" sleeve made of vellum and put together by a workshop for the deaf. Their 'From The Hip' LP cover is one of my favorites; It's a landscape with colored surveying poles sticking up from the ground. The computer coding of the colors actually spells "From The Hip". He was also responsible for the original 12" issue of New Order's 'Blue Monday', which was die-cut with notches to look like a big floppy disk. Brilliant. It's not often that you see that kind of thought going into music artwork...

peter
& anything by bjork.
i cannot believe i forgot her albums.

peter
Anything off of lex records, but most notably "Ghetto Pop Life" by DM + Jemini "Seed to Sun" by Boom Bip, "The Slickness" by Prince Po and the UK release of "The Mouse and The Mask" by DangerDoom.

I also love the more recent releases from Rune Grammofone. And intr_version (especially with their limited edition EP releases).

"Endtroducing". enough said.

"Loop-finding-jazz-records" by Jan Jelinek is so calm, yet so engaging. Beautiful work.

I do have to say, however, that "OK Computer" is probably my all time favourite piece of album artwork. Everything is right, nothing feels tacked on or superfluous.

Jon
Oh, rachel's selenography is really pretty on vinyl as well. The cd probably isn't much different but I have a hard time getting around jewel cases sometimes.

Mum's releases always have that book theme...but I can't help but to want it to actually be made out of that material and be a...book... Maybe a little expensive, but could you imagine how great that would be?

Jon
I second that for Constellation's artwork. Every album is a little piece of art in itself, whether it be a cd or LP (though I've recently started getting everything on vinyl...just so big and nice, but the cd's have that cute appeal...alas).

Also the ethical statement that permeates throughout their work adds actual substance behind the pretty, although usually severe face of all their releases. Each one is fantastic, to say the least, and the best part is inside!

But, oddly enough, some of the packaging that I'm most fond of is just shy of CST: both of the set fire to flames albums have packaging that almost justifies their purchase alone.

almostcool
This is a topic I could go on and on and on about, but I'll post a few to start and then throw some more in the thread as it progresses.

On a strictly minimal basis, I'm going to have to go with the Deathprod boxset as champion. It's like a mini monolith from which no light escapes. Evil. I love it.

The limited-edition 4CD remastered Cocteau Twins is pretty amazing. It's printed on this super weird paper that literally feels like wet suede to the touch. 4AD has always packaged their releases in amazing artwork, though. I could populate an entire list with V23 designs for 4AD releases. Stunning.

Another label that I can always count on for great packaging (that's also very tactile and nice) is Constellation. I fell in love with their chipboard sleeves and there's something about them that makes them stick out on my shelf next to jewel case after jewel case.

In terms of photography, Jon Wozencraft on the Touch label is hard to beat. There are so many amazing cover images that he's taken over the course of the past couple years that I wish I could plop down in his studio and just gaze at his negatives on a light table. Either that or project them onto a wall and lose myself in them.

Must. Stop. Now. I'll think of more soon.