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big black delta –
bbdlp1_101211

bbd_lp_reissue_750

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.”

stay tuned.

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war widow_051111


if you’ve ever heard their cover of cheap trick’s song he’s a whore, you’ll know that both big black delta and war widow are bands to keep an eye on. both new, both from LA and both with singers called jon. now whilst we’ve been working with big black delta for some time now, war widow are pretty new to us. both bands share the same record label – coming home records – who have handled not just releases from a large amount of nine inch nails alumni, but of course also the magnificent mellowdrone. it was through coming home records that we got wind of some of the new tracks by war widow. the label’s boss erik andrews posted a couple of tracks on soundcloud one morning and i joined the others on twitter who follow the label’s feed, and gave them a listen over a hot cup of coffee.

tear it up (above) is the track that immediately grabbed me. the first thing that struck me was the dirgey feel of it. then when the dark + seedy lyrics filled my ears i started getting a range of very particular images dancing around in my brain. so i immediately looked to see if any artwork had been announced for this release. sure enough they had a record cover on their website. it was of a cat snarling. rich colours. very vibrant. it was tough, but it didn’t seem to mesh with the music i was hearing. so i quickly fired off an email to erik and asked if the artwork had been printed yet. he said it hadn’t. i then started ripping through various photographs i had lying around on hard drives and bookmarked on various sites, trying to find things that seemed to fit the music. i then put together a few designs using the bands logo and some of these images, and fired it off as quick as i could to erik. he amazingly passed them right onto the band and just moments later i got news that they were into trying a new cover and wanted to know what else we had up our sleeves.

i then emailed two people. first my friend?matt sundin, who took the photographs for the 65daysofstatic album cover,?we were exploding anyway. i briefed him quickly on the sorta images i was after and asked him if he had anything lying around. i then reached out across oceans into distant lands i’d never set foot in and contacted a ukrainian photographer who’s flickr account i’d been obsessed with for some time now. i felt his photos were utterly perfect for this and had in fact used some of them in the initial comps i sent to the band. this guy’s name is alex alekseenko, and you can see more of his work here.

knowing both would need some time i then told the band i’d need a day or so to pull things together and if they could hold off the printing presses for a moment, it’d be worth their while. they were cool with this.

the next morning i was elated to find an email from alex in my inbox. turns out he was 100% down with us using one of his photos for a record cover, particularly for a rock band. he himself was a collector of many records and was very excited at the prospect of having some of his work used in such a fashion. similarly matt also got back to me with a few shots of his own that he felt stepped into the murky conceptual arena i was after with this.

the images then started to speak for themselves. certain images coupled very well with others and those that didn’t lead me to ask if they could delve deeper – send me anything. i wanted them to send me the stuff they might even be scared to send through, because of the content of them. needless to say but we were all excited and definitely beginning to get that feeling again. that feeling that made you remember why you do this damn thing for a living.

pretty soon it was done. round 2 was off to the band and we were checking our emails regularly for anything back from them.

the band got back to us after a few days. they’d made a decision. they wanted the image you see above for the cover, and the image you see below for the backcover. we then started about ‘finishing up’ the design, which of course involved making it feel like you’d find the record in the damp corner of someone’s basement in the middle of nowhere.

if you’re into hearing the record, needless to say we highly recommend it. it will be out on 12 inch vinyl and was produced by none other than jonathan bates of big black delta. you can grab another song from the record from the band’s site here, or from the label’s site here.

we hope you enjoy it and that the artwork in some way helps you get deeper into the music.

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sonoio blue_072810


alessandro cortini, who the vast majority will have seen singing backing vocals and playing guitars / synths for nine inch nails or muse, is of course a formidable musician in his own right. if you haven’t heard the song problem me by his band modwheelmood then you’re one jam short of a damn good mix.?SONOIO is the name of his new project, and it’s a 9 track album created entirely on?buchla modular synths.

a fan of our record sleeve and poster work for mellowdrone, alessandro got in touch with us with regards to creating artwork to accompany his new music. we say ‘artwork’ as opposed to ‘design work’ because he was particularly interested in the looser, more painterly / emotional elements of our work over some kind of cleaner, tighter design effort. modwheelmood had been heavy on the minimal design / die-cutting and this time, the record being much more personal to him, alessandro wanted a more cathartic, hand-made quality.

we talked for a while and decided that we should try to create something that had a european quality to it – something that harked back to alessandro’s roots. combining this with a visual device that we felt was most honest to the lyrical content on the record, we came up with the two matisse-esque characters you see on the cover, who are trying to cover up the holes in their chests. the colour choices were then informed in part by the colour of the buchla synth itself. the pencil marks are that of my father thomas newbolt,?who’s drawings we cut up and relocated elements of for the sake of adding more movement / life to the collage.

it was a long process – many versions were created and many strong ideas hit the cutting room floor. after much deliberation we all agree that the cover you see above though is the most profound and succinct description of the record’s musical content that we could come up with. as ever we hope you can form your own interpretations of the artwork’s relationship to the music and can let it grow with you as you get to know the songs.

the album, prints and t-shirts are now available in multiple formats on the SONOIO website, which was created by crosshatch.

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IFUCKINGLOVEYOU short film_072210


we just finished work on a short film to accompany the release of the next track from big black delta. it was shot over a couple of days around independence day in los angeles. the idea was simply to capture everything we got up to in the short time we had, be that searching the night sky for flashing lights, watching dan akroyd talking about UFOs on youtube or jonathan bates making strange noises on his studio floor. we hope the end result, if nothing else, makes you feel like all these things are related. not forcibly, but maybe with a little serendipity.

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big black delta_062710


jonathan bates, better known for his part in the fantastic band mellowdrone, recently got back in touch with us regarding a ‘new thing’ he was working on. as luck would have it, it was ?some seriously rich and rewarding new music. the kind which fills the mind with images pretty fast. well,?the next thing you know we’re watching the thundercats intro in total awe, debating wallpapering our apartment walls with TRON screenshots, and obsessing over UFOs. how one thing lead to another is neither here nor there, but it turns out we were all down with this new thing … and it was taking us places.

what then ensued was the constant, rapid exchange of music for artwork, much the way a choir does their psalms and responses. there’s no question in our minds now that?big black delta was the only name you could use to sum up the music, what inspired it and everything we’d ultimately made together from that point forward. cut then to just a few days ago. cut right to the moment when we slung the cover you see above onto the proverbial coffee table. cut to us all looking at each other like we knew it was time. yep, ufologists were about to get some melody in their google.

it’s been two days now since the first song was released and people seem to be?really digging it. there’s more great material on its way and we only hope, as ever, that people enjoy the unity we’ve strived for between sound and vision.

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mellowdrone –
angry bear poster (part 2)_053010


after selling out of the $2 smaller editions of mellowdrone’s angry bear poster, we got together with the band and produced a limited edition, high quality, glossy, king-size run. the final edition is 24 x 37 inches in size, which is about as big as your average full size film poster. it’s not often our artwork gets printed so large, but it’s always something we’re very thankful for.

if you are in need of some fury on your walls, don’t hesitate to grab yourself an edition while stocks last –

http://mellowdrone.com/poster/

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mellowdrone –
angry bear poster_050710


as part of our on going collaboration with the truly fantastic mellowdrone, we’ve designed a poster to support the sleeve artwork we did for their latest album, angry bear. the poster is currently available in one size only (11×17 inches) and is exclusively available from the band’s label coming home records for a mere $2. yep, that’s two dollars. so if you’re a fan, do yourself a favour – get a pint instead of that double and grab one of these puppies while stocks last.

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mellowdrone –
angry bear_060509

angry bear album cover

mellowdrone’s second album angry bear went on sale today from their label, coming home records. as previously reported, we were responsible for the artwork for both the CD and the vinyl. you can view the front and back cover on our website now in the printwork section. fan of the band or otherwise, we hope you enjoy the work. though we must stress, the images won’t really come alive until you’ve heard the music and understood why you are seeing what you are seeing.

mellowdrone.com
myspace.com/mellowdrone

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mellowdrone_050709

angry bear cover artwork

it’s not every day that one of your favourite bands on the planet calls you & asks you to design their record sleeve. such was the case a few weeks ago when tony dematteo, the guitarist of mellowdrone, rang our number one evening and asked us if we were interested in putting together the artwork for their second LP.

needless to say we jumped at the chance and the results speak for themselves. few collaborations are more exciting & productive than those between parties with a massive amount of mutual respect and a great deal in common.

so yeah, that image above is a teaser of the full artwork which will be available in it’s final form at mellowdrone shows come june. stay tuned for updates on the subject here too, when it’s appropriate to do so.

otherwise, go listen to their jams on myspace:

myspace.com/mellowdrone

they’re amazing.

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