Thursday, 30 November 2017

'Chronica' Sleeve Artwork

I woke up this morning (I say 'morning' but technically I'd missed the cut-off for that time of day by about an hour) to find a note shoved through the letter box, telling me that the postman had left a parcel for me, tucked between the wheelie bins. Having a pretty good idea what the parcel contained I excitedly nipped out to retrieve it, before it could get rained on. The last time a parcel was left there, I'd been away from home for a week. And if you know anything about the British weather, then you can guess what state it was in by the time I found it.

The parcel turned out to contain exactly what I thought it would - 'Chronica', the new gatefold, double album on heavyweight vinyl, by The Scaramanga Six. Even though I completed the sleeve artwork some months ago, this was the first time that I'd got to handle a copy of either the vinyl version or the CD (digipack double-CD is on lovely reverse-board finish) version of the record. I must say that I'm very pleased with the results. The colour reproduction and sleeve design is spot on, and matt finish to the cardboard sleeve not only looks great but adds that extra tactile element. Now all I have to do is dust off my trusty gramophone and give this baby a spin...

The Scaramanga Six, for an English indie band, are pretty much in a class of their own. They're theatrical songs and flamboyantly aggressive stage presence has made them a significant band on the Leeds rock scene. Described as "the closest we'll see to a British answer to Fugazi", The Scaramanga Six exist in a Lynchian-like soundscape where the likes of Cardiacs or Tony Bennet wouldn't seem out of place.

So here's a little about the concept behind the double album (lovingly lifted from the band's own site).
The title of this work is ‘CHRONICA’ – containing an abstract story roughly hewn from a concept of a dystopian island society. A place where everything has fallen into ruin, yet people still seem to have the same preoccupation with the trivial crap they had before. The population trudge through a chaotic existence on top of each other with absolutely no hope of a better life. Society is reduced to its base behaviour yet people still crave superficial fixes. The human condition carries on regardless. There is no outcome, no lessons to be learned. Familiar?

Before I started work on the album sleeve artwork, the band sent me loads of notes on the concept and other useful information. Rather than try to tackle as many of the elements from the notes as possible (in a straightforward illustrative manner) I decided to try and produce something that engaged with feel of the run-down dystopian island society that the album describes, whilst still staying true to the aesthetic of my own work. To achieve this I started by collaging together distressed, old materials, on top of sections of antique packing crates (check out some of the gorgeously grubby old labels, still attached to the wood), sourced from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where I used to work. Then I painted over areas of the collage with images adapted from my own drawings of found objects, morphing in and out of one another.

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