Author Topic: Cover art and creative packaging  (Read 4380 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 899
    • View Profile
    • bandcamp profile
Cover art and creative packaging
« on: October 27, 2012, 07:57:08 AM »
I apologize if this topic has been covered before.

I had a humbling experience last night. Over the last year or two I've invested an increasing about of money in digital downloads as opposed to CDs. My rationale was straight forward: It is typically cheaper to buy digital releases than physical ones. Moreover, there is something appealing about instantly being able to hear what you've purchased.

Last night my 7-year old daughter was perusing my CD collection and she was utterly absorbed in studying both the cover art and some of the creative ways in which artists assemble their products. We spent an hour together simply looking at the CDs, discussing the art, and what some of the common themes and points of divergence were among them. Like her cursed father, she has a bit of a collector spirit in her. I suspect this might be a turning point in her life that leads her to think about music in different ways--more than just sound that comes out of the speakers, but as pieces of history, artifacts, points of intersection between subcultures, and art. I hope she'll become a music collector too. ;-)

She was fascinated by some of the creative ways in which independent artists/labels assemble their products. She was intrigued by Steve Roach's Early Man--the edition that has what became ultimately became "Disc 1" was bound between two sheets of slate. And, although I've always found the size/dimensions of Faria Records releases (e.g., one manifestation of Oophoi's Dreams, some Aglaia) to be awkward, she loved them and enjoyed pulling out the cards and studying them. She was a bit puzzled over the use of seeds and leaves in some of the CD trays by Alio Die and Oophoi, but she seemed to warm to the idea quickly.

Anyhow, I think I'm back to focusing on physical products. Tomorrow she and I are pulling the vinyl out of storage. ;-)

Mike Griffin: If you're reading this, you should know that she was particularly fascinated by the Hypnos collection. She liked the way all the releases adhered to a common aesthetic theme. (She even liked the font change that took place, I don't know, maybe around 2001?) Her favorite Hypnos cover art is James Johnson's Entering Twilight. But she might be biased towards that piece because she has been listening to that album on repeat as bedtime music for years. I also told her Daddy designed the art on two of Numina's Hypnos CDs and I think I scored some Cool Daddy Points with her.
For anyone interested in a potentially fun discussion:

1. With respect to cover art: What three CDs are among your favorites?

2. What three CDs strike you as having some of the more unusual and/or creative formatting?


  • Hypnos Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7139
  • Life is a memory, and then it is nothing.
    • View Profile
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 10:34:28 AM »
I think this is an important subject. Thanks for the anecdote about your daughter's reaction to the Hypnos covers!

Obviously there's a lot more convenience to digital downloads as a way of obtaining and storing music, but there's a trade-off. I love the CD as object, and the ability to convey something about the music with design and text and artwork.

I like the cover photo for Entering Twilight too. It's actually a photo-collage of two images, neither of which is very "special" in itself. One is a muddy bank on the Willamette River in Portland, and the other is a leaf-strewn rainy sidewalk in my old Irvington neighborhood in NE Portland. Combined and processed in Photoshop, they form textures and colors that seem organic and sort of mysterious.

I'll have to give some thought to my favorite CD covers.

By the way, I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Roach's "ten pounds of slate" version of Early Man!
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) | |


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1212
    • View Profile
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2012, 12:43:42 PM »
Great topic - that sounds like a lovely time spent with your daughter, looking at music and art.

I always loved the Hawkwind open up record sleeves - Space Ritual, In Search of Space, Warrior on the Edge of Time....

The digipak covers give the chance to reach towards those record covers. I like the Roach/Obmana series - Well of Souls, Cavern of Sirens and Ascension of Shadows. Steve's solo Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces in the full box is beautiful and Vidna's Trilogy is very nice too.

I have a number of the Amplexus releases - the 3" CD series is lovely.

Lustmord's Zoetrope DVD cover is great and Mystified's Passing Through the Outer Gate is stunning.

Mathias Grassow's Dissolution with art cards is a favourite.

The Umbra label releases are a great set to have as well....I never did get the slate version of early man....

drone on

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2005
    • View Profile
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2012, 01:41:03 PM »
This is an excellent topic.   I feel strongly that music should be collected as physical objects instead of just a computer file.  Downloads save money but many times I've wished I'd bought the cd after I've downloaded.  In some cases I've still bought the cd after downloading.  My three favorite cd cover art...this is hard!  The "Origins" cd by Steve Roach would be one.  Cover photo was by William Lesch, who used colored light to "paint" the landscapes he photographed via a very unusual method where he'd become part of the shot, but after exposure the only trace of him would be a kind of light ball.  The second would be Oophoi "Celestial Geometries" which was NASA Viking photo of Cydonia region on Mars, with the face and pyramids.  That shot is stunning, and just says it all, really.  Third would be a tie between the 4AD art for "The Moon and the Melodies", which were these amazing photos of mysterious landscapes, and Russell Mills work in Budd/Eno "The Pearl". 

As far as packaging, I still prefer jewel case releases and most alternative packaging is inconvenient to handle.  One pet peeve is cardboard packaging where the cd can be scratched from sliding in/out.  I think a paper or plastic sleeve should be used on these.  I often store the disc in a paper sleeve on these releases to prevent cd damage. 

Scott M2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 747
    • View Profile
    • dreamSTATE
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2012, 02:23:31 PM »
Great story and a great topic!  Here's my quick response.

Ambient CDs:
Steve Roach takes the lead with Day Out Of Time, The Dream Circle and Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces.
Runners up include Robert Rich's Humidity, Brian Eno's Ambient series and Fripp's Soundscapes series.
I'm sure a browse through my collection would turn up some real gems which could displace these.

Non Ambient CDs:
Pink Floyd's Pulse (and Division Bell), FSOL's Dead Cities limited edition and Flaming Lips' Yoshimi

Non Ambient Vinyl:
Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (the most amazing album opening experience I've ever had, removing the opaque wrapper (with a related George Hardie sticker) to expose the photography with the "leaks", etc, etc...  Wow! (Dark Side is great but "eclipsed" by Wish)
The Clash's London Calling captures the vibe perfectly.
I'll second those Hawkwind covers/packages. As mind expanding as the the music.

I'm glad I passed on the slate version of Early Man, not just for the shipping charges to Canada but because I discovered that I prefer the music on the second disc! I do, however, have a copy of Aube's Seton CD which has a concrete cover for an album made from concrete sounds. It was irresistable when I saw it at the ping things table at a PiNG some years back. The music doesn't attract me like Early Man though. Aube has some great cover=music concepts.

BTW - I'm also fond of Entering Twilight's mysterious vibe and props to Chris for Eye of the Nautilus. Perfect!


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
    • View Profile
    • My Discogs profile and shop
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 01:43:28 AM »
Yes, great topic!!!

It's definitely a very long list of releases:

For sure many Amplexus, Arya, Aurora, Faria Records, Hic Sunt Leones, Trance Port, Oreus, Glacial Movements... releases


Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana "Well Of Souls" 2CD
John Vorus "Transmuting Currents" CD
Special edition of TUU "One Thousand Years" CD
Special edition of TUU "All Our Ancestors" CD
False Mirror "Derelict World" CD
Steve Roach "Day Out Of Time" CD/DVD
Steve Roach "Early Man" CD
Steve Roach "Dynamic Stillness" 2CD
Steve Roach "Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces" Box Set
Soriah with Ashkelon Sain "Eztica" CD
Aperus ‎"Tumbleweed Obfuscated By Camera Failure" CDr
Remanence "A Strange Constellation Of Events" CDr
Neu Gestalt "Weightless Hours" CD
Erik Wøllo "Fossegrimen" CD/Book
Robert Rich "Medicine Box" CD
Steve Roach "Origins" CD
Steve Roach "Dreamtime Return" 2CD
Steve Roach | Brian Parnham "The Desert Inbetween" CD
Robert Rich ‎"Echo Of Small Things" Box Set
Jorge Reyes ‎"Michoacán: Un Paisaje Sonoro" CD
Michael Stearns "The Lost World" CD
Steve Roach "Immersion : Three" 3CD

and most likely many others that didn't cross my mind.



  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2638
    • View Profile
    • DataObscura
Re: Cover art and creative packaging
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 08:48:51 AM »

Andrey Kirichenko :: Kniga Skazok  (ad noiseam)

love the graphics/design. digi pak.
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans