Music’s visual dimension: The beloved album cover
By Alice Rawsthorn
International Herald Tribune
“All of these covers are more than just visual representations of the music. They are compelling images with as much emotional resonance as the albums inside, and they evoke exactly what we were thinking and feeling when we first played them, just like a favorite track. The designer Peter Saville believes that, for many people, record covers are the first visual images to make a lasting impression, because their relationship to the music makes them first accessible, and then meaningful”.
“The musician David Byrne reckons that the role of the graphic designer will change from creating a couple of iconic images to represent the band and their music for album and singles covers, to inventing compelling ways of packaging all of this imagery and information for the listener”.
“From a design perspective, by far the most interesting component will be the new genre of ambient image sequences, mostly digital animations, which musicians will soon start commissioning to accompany music downloads. If you want to see how these animations are likely to look, log on to the Web sites of digital artists like Daniel Brown at http://www.danielbrowns.com or Yugo Nakamura at http://www.yugop.com. On each site you will find a selection of trippy, immersive image sequences”.
“In other words, they will be the visual equivalent of wordless music, and will be designed to enhance the experience of listening to it”.
“My idea of hell is to be trapped in a room with MTV, because the experience of watching music videos is almost always inferior to listening to the music,” observes Saville. “The digital animations that we’ll download on to iPods will be more enigmatic and will give the music a visual dimension on to which we can project our own thoughts and feelings. Just like the best album covers.”