the above cover of the new big black delta album has existed in one form or another for a year or more. aside from the protomen act II logo, this is the longest we’ve had to sit on something and let it mature. it has therefore had to suffer being discarded a few times and consequently being heaved back onto the table for repair. this is largely because we were nervous and didn’t trust that the visual came close to the power of the music. thus we kept searching for a way to express that, and consequently found ourselves staring at this piece again and again, realizing it was the closest we’d ever come.
the idea behind this cover was essentially two-fold -
first up whilst the EP depicted elements passing through space toward something, the LP we felt should be emblematic of the place they were all headed – the core or nucleus sucking everything in. this way we had a story of sorts, both visually and conceptually. conceptually because, as with most EPs, the songs were tested out and then some found their final resting place on the LP.
secondly we wanted something that gave you the sense of being in a minute, inner-space, just as much as the more obvious, vast, outer-space setting the artwork appeared to depict at first glance. we wanted it to feel like the genesis of an idea, or the microscopic core of the beginnings of an erruption, as much as a planetoid or huge cataclysm in space. you see we were into the idea that jonathan bates’ first band, mellowdrone, had had an album cover with a man clutching his head as it exploded, and that subsequently this record was perhaps illustrating the inside of that same head. the nucleus of the eruption, be it psychological or physical, that lead to the head exploding. the assumption being that both images, for us, represented the state the band was in, the lyrics and the overall tone.
whilst big black delta is very much a more personal, solo musical endeavor for jon, mellowdrone saw him very much more in a band environment, in more of a democracy and also dealing with a sense of disenfranchisement. so the angry bear album cover was an external view of the result of a certain psychology, and the BBDLP1 cover is a depiction therefore, also, of something more personal, from somewhere more unique to just jon.
beyond the hand-drawn elements themselves the cover was also treated with a level of distressing and texture. the reason for this is that the music itself was treated in a similar fashion. jon deliberately kept certain glitches and errors that happened in the processing or compression of each track in order to give it a more freeform and ‘fuck it’ attitude. so in turn we effectively threw the record on the floor at a UFO convention and let everyone stampede across it as they made their way from bob lazar’s talk on alien spaceship reverse engineering over to the preview screenings of the next series of ancient aliens.
so what next? well jon is of course working on new music and we’re already working on new artwork. as jim carroll says in the basketball diaries “come on, reggie, you know this game never ends.”