Album Art

  • Basic Channel - The Purest of the Pure

    The record sleeves for Basic Channel and their various output have always had a nice aesthetic. Simple, sleek and elegant. It doesn't hurt that the music is killer as well.









    I own the helmet below, which I like to wear when listening to these records. For no reason other than it just feels right.


    Basic Channel is a dub techno production team and record label, composed of Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, that originated in Berlin, Germany in 1993. The duo released a number of vinyl-only tracks under various aliases, each of which employed their signature brand of dissonant dub techno. The nine original releases were each primarily identified as Basic Channel productions by their catalogue numbers, as the Basic Channel logo on the label became more distorted and unreadable with each subsequent release.

    The duo set up a studio in Berlin on Paul-Lincke-Ufer, in a building which was eventually to house Mark Ernestus’ distributing company and shop Hard Wax, and the label's mastering studio Dubplates & Mastering, set up to ensure a desired dynamic quality for the vinyl.

    The Basic Channel imprint ceased business in 1995 (apart from two releases almost a decade later that were originally issued on Carl Craig's Planet E label), but were followed by a string of similar labels. Among the most important were Chain Reaction, which released non-Von Oswald/Ernestus productions and helped launch the careers of dub-influenced minimal techno producers such as Monolake and Porter Ricks; Basic Replay, which specialises in reggae and dancehall re-issues; Main Street, for house-related releases; and Burial Mix and Rhythm & Sound, which saw the duo's sound move away from the Detroit blueprint and closer to vocal-lead dub and reggae. Their With The Artists album, released as Rhythm & Sound and featuring celebrated reggae and dancehall vocalists such as Sugar Minott, featured in the top 50 records of the year for 2003 in The Wire magazine.

    Basic Channel also run a comprehensive programme of re-issues for the American reggae label Wackies.

  • Bikini Machines - Collected LP Art

















    From the brilliant Bikini Machines

  • Deconstructing Panda Bear's Person Pitch


    Panda Bear is the member of Animal Collective who made the nearly perfect solo record, Person Pitch. I was on his Wikipedia page and noticed all the sampling he did for this album and thought that highlighting some of these bits & pieces would be fun. 

    We begin with Agnes Montgomery. She's the artist who created the iconic album art (shown above) and the collages shown below. Agnes is based in Philly.  Signed limited edition prints of her work can be purchased for $125 here.






    Below are the songs sampled on the album:


    Comfy In Nautica features a sample of Geino Yamashirogumi's song Tetsuo.  Geino Yamashirogumi is a Japanese folk collective that could have over 70 singers and 100 members at any given time.  The members consist of every day people that range from businessmen, doctors, students and everyone in between. The song Panda Bear sampled was a commisioned tune from the soundtrack to Akira.  The picture below is taken from Julian Cope's website and shows some of the members performing.




    Take Pills, the second song on Person Pitch, contains a sample from a Scott Walker's ballad, Always Coming Back to You (shown below) and The Tornados song, Popeye Twist (shown below that).



    Track 3 - Bros - Contains the following samples:

    Red Roses and a Sky of Blue by The Tornados



    I've Found a Love by Cat Stevens from his album, Matthew & Son



    Rub A Dub Dub by The Equals (Listen Here)



    Track 4: I'm Not contains a sample from Rose, Liz, Printemps, Verdure by Guillaume de Machaut but performed by Gothic Voices



    Track 5: Good Girl / Carrots contains the following samples:

    Radio Calcutta #2 from the album Radio India: The Eternal Dream of Sound



    Enter the Dragon by Lee Scratch Perry



    Ananas Symphonie by Kraftwerk



    Track 6: Search for Delicious is named after the book of the same namb by children's author Natalie Babbitt



    ...and that takes care of that!

  • Destination Out Takes You There

    Destination Out is a good station to prepare for orbit.  They deal primarily with Free Jazz but also No Wave, Experimental, Films, books, even shoegaze. The experience is a whole lot better if you're wearing a dashiki. Prepare for take off.






















  • Essential Records | Top Free Jazz Albums According to Thurston Moore



    This list, originally published in the brilliant but defunct, Grand Royal Magazine, has been circulating for years. What's most striking is Moore's enthusiastic writing when describing these nuggets. What's even better is that Rootstrata uploaded these albums for you to download.




    1. DAVE BURRELL - Echo (BYG 529.320/Actuel Volume 20)

    In the fall of 1969 Free Jazz was reaching a kind of nadir/nexus.
    Within the industry it was controversial. Classic traditionalists
    (beboppers included) were outraged by men in dashikis and sandals
    jumping on stage and just BLOWING their guts out creating screaming
    torrents of action. Most musicians involved with this crying anarchy
    could get no bookings beyond the New York loft set. The French lovers
    of the avant-garde embraced this African-American scene wholly. This
    recording is one of many in a series of LP’s with consistent design.
    BYG released classic Free Jazz documents by Archie Shepp (at his
    wildest), Clifford Thornton, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Grachan Moncur
    III, Sunny Murray, Alan Silva, Arthur Jones, Dewey Redman and many
    others. A lot of these cats are present on this recording where from
    the first groove it sounds like an acoustic tidal wave exploding into
    shards of dynamite. If you can locate Alan Silva’s “Lunar Surface” LP
    (BYG 529.312/Actuel Vol. 12) you’ll find a world even that much more



    2. MILFORD GRAVES & DON PULLEN - Nommo (S.R.P. LP-290)

    Milford may be one of the most important players in the Free Jazz
    underground. He enforces the sense of community as a primary exponent
    of his freely improvised music. His drumkit is home-made and he rarely
    performs outside of his neighborhood. When he does perform he plays
    his kit like no other. Wild, slapping, bashing, tribal freak-outs
    interplexed with silence, serenity and enlightened meditation. This LP
    was manufactured by the artists in 1967 and is recorded live at Yale
    University. The interplay between Milford and Don (piano) is
    remarkable and very free. There’s a second volume which also is as
    rare as hen’s teeth.




    3. ARTHUR DOYLE Plus 4 - Alabama Feeling (AK-BA AK-1030)

    Arthur is a strange cat. Not too many people know where he’s from
    (Alabama is a good guess). He resided in New York City in the 70’s and
    showed up in loftspaces spitting out incredible post-Aylerisms. Mystic
    music which took on the air of chasing ghosts and spirits through
    halls of mirrors (!). He hooked up with noise/action guitarist Rudolph
    Grey who was making the current No-Wave scene and with Beaver Harris
    (drums) they played gigs in front of unsuspecting art creeps
    apparently not “hip” enough to dig, let alone document, the history
    blasting their brains. Arthur did release this lo-fi masterpiece and
    it’s a spiraling cry of freedom and fury. AKBA Records released a
    number of classic NYC loft-jazz sessions, most notably those of label
    boss Charles Tyler, a screaming tenor player who also blew with
    Rudolph in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Arthur continues to play/teach
    etc. in Binghamton, N.Y. and recently released in 1993 “More Alabama
    Feeling” on yours truly’s Ecstatic Peace label (available from Forced
    Exposure/POB 9102/Waltham, MA 02254)



    4. SONNY MURRAY - Sonny’s Time Now (Jihad 663)

    Sonny was the drummer considered to be the first to realize and
    recognize and perform, on drums, pure FREE jazz. He played behind and
    along with Ayler early on and Cecil Taylor. He constructed groups
    which always flew and raged with spiritual abandon. He took time as an
    abstract and turned it into free motion. This recording is super-lo-fi
    and is awesome. On it play Ayler(tenor) and Don Cherry (trumpet) as
    well as Leroi Jones (now known as Amiri Baraka) reading a killer poem
    called “Black Art”. This music is very Ayler but more fractured and
    odd. Like a lot of these records there is only a front cover with the
    back of the jacket blank. Whether this was done for economic or
    artistic reasons is unclear. Jihad was a concern of Leroi Jones and
    anything released on this label is utterly obscure. The only other
    title I’ve seen is one just called “BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL” from the
    mid-60’s which is Leroi and friends sitting on the stoops of Harlem
    chanting, beating drums and celebrating Leroi’s “poems” (”The white
    man/at best/is..corny!”) There was an ad for Jihad in an old issue of
    Jazz & Pop magazine which announced a Don Ayler (Albert’s amazing
    trumpet-playing bro) LP but I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s actually
    seen this. “Sonny’s Time Now” was reissued a few years ago in Japan
    (DIW-25002) on CD and LP (with an enclosed 7″ of two extra scratchy
    tracks!) but even that is near impossible to locate. Recorded in 1965.




    5. THE RIC COLBECK QUARTET - The Sun Is Coming Up (Fontana 6383 001)

    Issued in the UK only in 1970. Ric was an interesting white cat who
    came to the U.S. to blow some free e-motion with NYC loft dwellers.
    He’s most well known for his amazing playing on the great Noah
    Howard’s first ESP-Disk release (ESP 1031). The whole 1000 series of
    ESP is critical & crucial to anybody wanting to explore this era of
    Free Jazz featuring recordings by Ayler, Ornette, Sonny Simmons, Sun
    Ra, Henry Grimes, Steve Lacy, Sunny Murray, Marzette Watts, Patty
    Waters, et al. I’m not including any of these in this list as they’re
    all available on CD now (from Forced Exposure, address above). The
    picture of Ric on the Noah Howard LP shows a man with race-car shades
    and a “cool” haircut playing his horn while a ciggie burns
    nonchalantly from his relaxed grip. A very hip dude. And very FREE.
    His only solo recording is this Fontana LP which he recorded while
    cruising through Europe. He connected with South African drummer
    Selwyn Lissack (whatever happened to…) and the UK’s famous
    avant-altoist Mike Osborne and bassist J.F. ‘Jenny’ Clark (student of
    20th century compositionists Lucian Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen)
    to create this exceptional and complex masterpiece.




    Tchicai is a 6′6″ Danish/Congolese tenor sax player who, in the early
    60’s, started blowing minds all across the Netherlands with his
    radical “music for the future”. Archie Shepp encouraged him to come to
    NYC and join like-minded souls of avant-guardia. Tchicai came over and
    kicked everybodys ass. Leroi Jones shouted his name and talent loudly
    as Tchicai hooked up with Shepp and Don Cherry for the New York
    Contemporary Five and later an even heavier ensemble with Milford
    Graves and Roswell Rudd called the New York Art Quartet. The NYAQ
    recorded one of the most crucial sessions for ESP-Disk (esp1004) which
    had Leroi reciting his infamous BLACK DADA NIHILISMUS (available on CD
    from Forced Exposure). AFRODISIACA was released in Germany (and in
    other re-release configurations…supposedly) and is Tchicai gathered
    with 25 other local-Euro musicians playing a hurricane of a piece by
    trumpet/composer Hugh Steinmetz. This music gets way way out and has
    the real ability to take you “there”. The echo effect on some of this
    shit is quite ill in a very analog way. And the way the shit gets that
    dirty-needled distortion at the end of side one (all 25 cats GOING AT
    IT!) is beautiful, baby, BEAUTIFUL!!






    7. RASHIED ALI and FRANK LOWE - Duo Exchange (Survival SR101)

    Frank Lowe has been studying and playing a consistently developing
    tenor sax style for a few decades now. At present he’s been swinging
    through a Lester Young trip which can be heard majestically on his
    Ecstatic Peace recording (E#19..from Forced Exp.) In the early 70’s,
    however, he was a firebrande who snarled and blew hot lava skronk from
    loft to loft. He played with Alice Coltrane on some of her more out
    sessions. Rashied Ali was the free-yet-disciplined drummer whom
    Coltrane enlisted to play alongside Elvin Jones and Pharaoh Sanders
    (and Alice) in his last mind-bending, space-maniacal recordings (check
    out surely the Coltrane/Ali duet CD Interstellar Space). Elvin quit
    the group cuz Rashied was too hardcore. Those were the fuckin’ days.
    And Rashied had his own club downtown NYC called Ali’s Alley! Duo
    Exchange is Rashied and Frank completely going at it and just burning
    notes and chords where ever they can find ‘em. Totally sick. Survival
    was Rashied’s record label which had cool b&w matte sleeves and some
    crucial releases mostly with his quartet/quintet and a duo session
    with violinist LeRoy Jenkins.




    8. THE PETER BROTZMANN SEXTET/QUARTET - Nipples (Calig - CAL30604)

    The influence of Free Jazz-era Coltrane, Ayler, Esp-disk, Shepp, etc.
    on hard drinking, knuckle-biting European white cats is formidable.
    These guys didn’t care so much about plaing “jazz” as just totally
    ripping their guts out with high-energy, brain-plowing NOISE.
    Brotzmann (sax, German), Evan Parker (sax, UK), Derek Bailey (guitar,
    UK), and Han Bennink (drums, Dutch) are a few of the spearheaders of
    this Free-Euro scene and are caught on this insanely rare early
    document. The b&w cover has a fold-out accordion post card set of
    personal images of the musicians glued and paperclipped to its front.
    Brotzmann went on to help further the critical documentation of the
    Euro-Free-Jazz scene with FMP (Free Music Productions) Records which
    still exists to this day. There are over a 100 releases on this label
    of pure Euro-improv and they all offer remarkable moments. Derek
    Bailey went on to create his own categorically similar Incus Records
    in the UK which is also still extant. As is the Han Bennink associated
    I.C.P. (Instant Composers Pool) Records. The most mind-blasting of
    these recordings may be MACHINE GUN (FMP 24 CD available from
    NorthCountry Distr./Cadence Bldg./Redwood, NY 13679) where Brotzmann
    leads an octet through a smashing clanging wonderland of noise.
    Improvisation and classic western musics are seriously tended to by a
    large Euro community and it’s all pretty fascinating. Check out the
    works of Alexander von Schlippenbach, Barry Guy & The London Jazz
    Composers Orchestra, Misha Mengleberg, Peter Kowald, Andre Jaume,
    Andrea Centazzo, Lol Coxhill and just about anybody who plays with




    Marzette was a serious black art cat who resided in downtown NYC when
    Free Jazz as a NEW cultural revolution was in full gear. He painted
    and composed wonderful music where some of the coolest locals could
    flow their flavor. One of the heaviest ESP-disk recordings is
    Marzette’s MARZETTE AND COMPANY (On CD from Forced Exposure) which has
    the incredible talents of saxist Byard Lancaster (who released an
    early indie b&w Free Jazz classic out of Philly called LIVE AT
    MCALLISTER COLLEGE - find it and send it to me..) and guitarist Sonny
    Sharrock (check his wild influence on Pharaoh Sanders’ TAUHID Impulse
    CD and his own obscure noise guitar masterpiece BLACK WOMAN on Vortex)
    and cornetist Clifford Thornton (academic NEW MUSIC/Free Jazz
    “teacher” who released a few crucial sides such as COMMUNICATIONS
    NETWORK on Third World and THE PANTHER AND THE LASH on America) and
    the amazing free vocalist Patty Waters (who recorded two infamous
    hair-raising platters on ESP-Disc). This recording on Savoy was one of
    a series produced by Bill Dixon, an early associate of Archie Shepp’s,
    who was an incredible composer in his own right. I’ve heard tapes of
    Dixon leading Free-Jazz orchestras into sonic symphonic heavens. Very

    This recording I list because of all its obvious loaded references but
    it’s also quite happening and anything with Marzette, Dixon
    (especially INTENTS AND PURPOSES on RCA Victor), Byard (careful,
    there’s some clinkers) and Clifford is extremely worthwhile.





    10. MARION BROWN - In Sommerhausen (Calig 30 605)
    BLACK ARTISTS GROUP - In Paris, Aries 1973 (BAG 324 000)
    FRANK WRIGHT QUARTET - Uhuru Na Umoja (America 30 AM 6104)
    CECIL TAYLOR - Indent, part 2 (Unit Core 30555)

    Five way tie for last? Well, seeing as there’s no “beginning” or “end”
    to this shit I have to list as many items as possible just to
    reiterate the fact that there was (indeed) a ton o’ groovy artifactual
    evidence to support the reality of the existence of FREE MUSIC. Dig?
    There’s used record stores all over the country (the world!) and they
    all have the potential to be hiding some of these curios amongst the
    bins and most peeps just ain’t sure of their worth and sometimes you
    can find ‘em really cheap. It’s definitely a marketplace of the
    rarefied so when peeps are “hip” to it expect this shit to be way

    Marion Brown was/is an alto player who made an incredible LP with Tony
    Oxley and Maarten Altena called “Porto Novo” that just twists and
    burns start to finish. Marion could really get on OUT as well as just
    play straight up. Shepp dug him and got him to do some great LP’s on
    Impulse. He had a septet at one point that was especially remarkable
    featuring Beaver Harris (drums), Dave Burrell (piano), Grachan Moncur
    III (bone), and Alan Shorter (trumpet). Alan being Wayne Shorter’s
    (Miles Davis sideman/classicist) brother. Where Wayne was fairly
    contemporary (though eclectic as a muh’fuck) Alan was strictly ill and
    has two obscuro LP’s worth hunting down: “Orgasm” (Verve V6 8768) and
    “Tes Estat” (America AM 6118). “In Sommerhausen” is Marion in late
    60’s exploratory fashion and is quite freaky with the vocal whoops of
    Jeanne Lee. There’s another LP from this period called
    “Gesprachsfetzen” (Calig CAL 30601) which really lays down the scorch.

  • From the Stone Roses to John Leckie to Love to Bob Pepper to Phillip K Dick Without Saying Anything Too Important

    Those paint splattering menaces are at it again! The Stone Roses released their box set a few weeks back and I just had the chance to pick up my copy. The package is absolutely essential to people who forgot just how good this band was.



    Those who have seen the band and have seen Ian Brown sing live, know just how important the high profile production work of John Leckie was to creating the sound to these recordings.  I was recetnly reading Love's Forever Changes Wikipedia page, when I noticed that the partnership between The Roses and Leckie was apparently solidified when both parties agreed that Forever Changes was "the best record ever made", which explains alot when it comes to explaing the Turns Into Stone sound.



    Forever Changes was Love's third record and certainly their best.  The album art was done by Bob Pepper, an artist whose ties with Elektra gave him the opportunity to work on some of the most iconic album covers of the late sixties.



    Pepper went on to create book covers for Ballantine's Fantasy series, most notable the work of Phillip K. Dick.


    Via John Coulthart
  • Hipgnosis













    Hipgnosis was a British design group that made some of the best album covers in history. The group consisted of Storm Thogerson, Aubrey Powell & Peter Christopherson. They're no longer together, though Thorgerson still designs covers.

    Storm's Site (see recent & more work as well as his films, videos and books.  You can also buy some prints)

    Images sourced from: The Flavor, Aqui Jazz Lucas & Without Shoes

  • Knockoffs!


















    See more at the absurdly great Knockoff Project

  • Michael English & Nigel Waymouth Were Hapshash & The Coloured Coat


    Hapshash & The Coloured Coat were a sixties design duo that consisted of Nigel Waymouth and Michale English. Along with fellow artist Martin Sharp, the collective were heavily associated with London's psychedelic scene.

    From John Coulthart:

    "This was a bitter blow coming at a time when I’ve been working on something inspired in part by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, the 1960s design duo comprised of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth. The two artists, together with associate Martin Sharp, are indelibly associated with the London psychedelic scene of the late Sixties. Whereas Sharp’s posters were often loose and dramatically bold explosions of shape and colour, the Hapshash posters were more carefully controlled in their curating of disparate elements borrowed from Art Nouveau—especially Mucha and Beardsely—comic strips, Op Art, Pop art and fantasy illustration. Their work perfectly complemented the very distinctive atmosphere of the capital’s psychedelic scene which, for a couple of hectic years, saw an explosion of new bands (or old bands in new guises) fervently engaged in a lysergic exploration of Victoriana, childhood memories and frequent silliness. UK psychedelia is generally more frivolous than its US equivalent which had the Vietnam War and civil disorder to deal with; English and Waymouth’s graphics captured the London mood."

    Additional images sourced from The Who Collection
  • Morrissey's Muse | The Post Punk World of Linder

    Linder Sterling, or just Linder is an English artist, radical feminist and cult figure in the Manchester punk and post punk scenes.  She dated Howard Devoto of The Buzzcocks (also Magazine) and is probably best known for creating the Album art for The Buzzcocks semianl album, Orgasm Addict.

    In 1978 she created her own band, Ludus, which survived as a post punk, experimental pop band until 1983 and secured their spot in history by becoming the favorite band of both Morrissey and The Smiths.


    Listen to Ludus - "She She"


    She is one of Morrissey's very few close friends and was immortalized in The Smiths' song, Cemetary Gates. She was the photographer of the record sleeves Your Arsenal and Beethoven Was Deaf.


    Below are a collection of the artist's (mostly collage) work






  • Reggae LP Art






















    Images sourced from:  | I Am The Gorgon! | Barney Russel | Zeca Meyer | LP Cover Lover

  • Roger Dean

    Roger Dean is an artist and an architect best known for creating the album art for bands like Asia and Yes. He also designs homes, including the one below, which seems loyal to his aesthetic and a suitable place to day dream.














    Other Weird Homes

    The Hobbit Home




    Pierre Cardin's Bubble Home






    via Dark Roasted Blend & Fresh Pics

  • Stereolab Album Covers and the Mystery of Hotcha!

    I've always enjoyed the handmade approach to the Stereolab album art. The covers above the dotted line pretty much look the way they sound.  You can almost hear the soothing political weirdness oozing from the gooves beneath the sleeve.  An interesting tid bit on their Wikipedia page points out a mystery that involves the covers beneath the dotted line. The figure on those covers, whom the band nicknamed "Cliff", is a reproduction of a comic strip character from the 1970 Swiss undergound newspaper, Hotcha!.  I can't find any information on this paper.  If you know anything about it, or better yet have scans of the paper - please let us know. Muchos Gracias!







    --------------------The "Cliff" Files----------------------





    Categories: Music, Design, art, Album Art
  • Suede Album Covers

    As a band, I can take them or leave them. I do like a handful of their songs and I really like their video for Metal Mickey,  but what I always really loved about this band was their LP art.

    Their story begins with the image below taken from their self titled album, Suede.  The cover was taken from the book, Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs by Tessa Boffin and Jean Fraser and was placed on Virgin Media's Top 20 Most Pretentious Album Covers.  The Actual photograph was cropped from a photo by Tee Corrine.


    The inner sleeve photography was done by legendary rock photographer, Pennie Smith, who you will most likely recognize from the shot below.

    The best of Suede's covers came later, when Peter Saville, art director for Factory Records came into the picture. Peter made these covers as well.




    ...and now for the Sude covers...the hyper glam covers are the ones designed by Peter. The others are just as a great.









    As a bonus: Here are some of those "Pretentious Album Covers" listed in that story. The rest can be found here.