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thanks for calling_093014


the video above is for ‘thanks for calling,’ the new single by our friend and long-standing collaborator, alessandro cortini. a man of many side projects, we have been fortunate to be most closely involved with sonoio, arguably his most lyrical outlet to date. it’s no secret that the dialogue between us is a constant thing, but it was around the time?memphis?was being shot that our discussions regarding a video for the?song really started to bear fruit. the treatment matt sundin and i put together was a personal one that we felt tied strongly to the lyrical themes of the record and also?harked back to the european filmmakers that had featured so heavily in all of our upbringings, for one reason or another.

that summer we found ourselves on the ground in los angeles. our producer,?friend and hero?katharine o’brien had already introduced us to the?fantastic?director of photography,?monika lenczewska, and we were scouting locations, machetes in hand, in the creeks of the santa monica mountains. monika’s enthusiasm and humour as we hacked through the undergrowth planning each shot breathed new life into the project, to say the least.

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soon enough emails were flying back and forth with various crew members and our crazed?psycho-drama?was beginning to look like a reality.

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casting, always the rogue element in any film, certainly took us to the brink. we’d crawl out of building sets deep in the forest and find ourselves sitting in a coffee shop or in front of a computer picking gunk?from beneath our fingernails,?looking at actors and actresses. the trick of course with this?film was that we had to find someone willing to play not just the swanky?LA party goer, but also the sunbaked, blood-soaked, creek fiend.

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with an entire nation of poison oak cleared away,?half the garbage in the surrounding 2 mile radius dragged into one spot and a crew of 20-30 people making a home somewhere long a trail through the forest, we hit the first day and watched marshall allman awake from his fall???delirious, smashed and looking for little more than a sip of water.

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naturally things got out of control and as marshall was dragged away by some curious ‘locals,’ we got into our fair share of technical scraps too. as he pretended to piece together the reasons for why his world had been turned upside down, we?hauled machinery around rocks, through undergrowth and in and out of ponds.

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as the day went on we threw everything?we had at marshall to try to keep him down. including a?specter of his wife, played by a rather radical looking daveigh chase. pretty soon he was telling us?exactly how he planned?to kill everyone in sight.

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technically speaking one of the highlights of the shoot was hugh bell bringing a prototype of his incredible?MOVI rig to the set. when the ground is basically all big rocks, this thing kept the shots looking and feeling like we were floating like a feather across the landscape. naturally it also allowed us a few evil dead style movements through the forest, which?was?cool. having hugh on set meant he could take apart the rig in a split-second to make any necessary adjustments as we moved forward and tried new shots ? an advantage we never took for granted.

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all the while we just tried to keep track of things.

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the next day and night we were in a convoy of cars racing around corners on one-way roads throughout the forest canyons. first we did a few runs with monika?and hugh?sitting in the back seat of the mustang, then,?with an?enormous camera strapped to the back of another truck like the outboard motor on a boat, we set them off by themselves. we then?coaxed marshall and daveigh deeper and deeper into a screaming match via?a walkie-talkie?hidden in their car, as we swept back and forth across dark canyon roads ??our lights out, unaware what might come from the mist at us with each new bend.

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it was a two and a half?day shoot that ended by the side of the road early on a saturday morning.?all of us, exhausted but content,?stared?down into a fog filled canyon stretching out toward the ocean. as our 1965 mustang’s headlights cast our shadows into the early morning mist, we wondered equally if we’d got every shot we needed and how good bed would no doubt feel when you’d driven yourself into the ground in this way.

editing the film was a tough process, as is always the case. there are many ways to skin a cat as they say, and this one was often?screeching as we did it. we ended up with not just 3-4 different edits of the video, but also two entirely different mixes for the song itself. in the end alessandro made the call as to which combination should be the ‘official’ cut. however we?also agreed that one of the other cuts made a good accompanying piece in terms of the different interpretations of the narrative. edit-wise it doesn’t vary hugely, but the colour grade,?sound design and song mix set it apart in ways that are worth?experiencing ? the song mix in particular couples well with the?new sound design and puts a different emphasis on the percussive elements of the outro.

this ‘director’s cut’?we present for you now ?

cheers.

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manifold_102913

mavs_manifold_750

a while back i came head to head with the work of one of my design heroes, eike k?nig. i’d been asked to redesign the logo for the german band booka shade, after many years of eike having been their go-to design guy. it was frankly a terrifying prospect. whilst i was quite sure eike would probably never see the work i did, i would be immediately compared to him by both the band and their large fan base. settling down to create the logo i realized of course that you just do the best thing you can, and make sure that at the very least it’s nothing like the other guy’s work.

when matthew pusti of makeup and vanity set asked me to do the cover for the soundtrack EP to anthony scott burns‘ forthcoming sci-fi short, manifold, i sighed a similar breath of despair. why? because ash thorp had done the film’s poster and of course once again i would have to be compared to someone of considerable status in the graphics world. suffice to say here’s the poster ash had made –

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turning away from it, going for several walks listening to the soundtrack and spinning the film’s ideas around in my head, i realized of course that ash had the visual concept wrapped up. particularly in terms of subtly explaining what the film was about, but not so much as to spoil the film. every idea i wrote down or got momentarily excited about felt too similar to what he was saying with his treatment.

what he didn’t have however, that of course applied in particular to the job i had to do, were the tracks on the EP that had remained unreleased up until now. these were tracks that had been written for, but not actually used in the film. in particular the track ‘yearling,’ which featured original foley work, vied for my attention every time i put the record on.

mulling over these differences i decided to take a different route, one that i’d been flirting with for a while but never really had the chance to test out – a route i like to call the ‘polish’ route. now i must stress this is a route i still haven’t fully explored, but the work i was to do on manifold?certainly gave me the impetus to do so. it is afterall a firmer step in that direction, and excitingly so.

after watching the film several times i began to feel a tingling, almost aching pain in my face. furthermore i began to think about how much value we put in the face and what it means in terms of not just our identity, but our chances in life. how being beautiful can both be a blessing and a curse, and how in many regards you can either be born with a ticket on a certain kind of ride, or a ticket on an entirely different ride. all of this based on your face and how it develops as an image to others.

i then started thinking about how technology is really quite an organic extension of the human form and mindset, and that it wouldn’t be too long before these things merge imperceptibly. in fact i’d written an essay for the IFP on this subject just a few weeks before, so to say the idea was on my mind a little was an understatement. the sense of menace one feels as we start to worry about the increasing amount that technology governs our lives, is really just a greater understanding of our own constant need for distraction from ourselves.

this is when i started to realize what i had to do for?manifold, and furthermore i knew exactly where i was going to start. skipping through the film to a very particular shot, i cut it out and began work. i had to make an image that encapsulated, for me at least, that sense of terror beneath the ever prettier face of technology, and at the same time capture that actual physical ache i felt in my own face after watching the film. as i worked i began to realize that i was also edging closer to this aforementioned ‘polish’ route.

now, by ‘polish’ route i of course mean making a film poster that uses little or none of the imagery from the film and instead offers a more emotional, impressionistic interpretation of its narrative. the eastern-european film posters that have been created in support of US films (with particular reference to poland), are a powerful lesson in creating an image that, to paraphrase jim steinman, you’ll never know the meaning of, but you’ll know how it feels. much in the same way a piece of music moves you in a fashion you cannot put into words, eastern-european posters often remove all trace of the film’s visual, its recognizable characters and its story, and delve headfirst into making an entirely original image. an image that still conveys the film’s ideas, but often in a darker and less conventional style. consequently it’s this approach that has come to feel so incredibly liberating to designers working in US and UK markets. to quote??on the subject??”there?s something captivating about those things that feel inseparable from a haze of abandon, existing to give hope to the creatively forlorn.”

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left: philip gips, US. right: wieslaw walkuski, poland.

when i presented the final cover to matthew pusti, he said it was perfect. i know he would have let me take it even further into the horrifying abstract had i wanted to, but then we both agreed that it was as important to keep things familiar this time around. after all it wasn’t our film and we could just as easily go to poland next time.

you can buy the full manifold soundtrack here, and you can watch a trailer for the film here.

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wild light_100313

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creative review?asked?to include 65daysofstatic’s wild light album cover in their monthly round-up of great album covers. in doing so they interviewed us about what went into the making of the sleeve –

could you tell me more about the inspiration for this design, how it relates to the music and how you came up with the idea?

65daysofstatic have always had a strong socio-politcal mindset whether that has directly influenced their music or not. therefore it came as no surprise to me that whilst in the studio they’d read and discussed a wide array of contemporary and historical political and artistic literature. for this reason when they approached me to create the artwork for the album i was given a good deal more than just their definition of the term ‘wild light’.

leading with ezra pound’s imagist poem ‘in a station of the metro’ they lead me down a path of minimalist, suprematist and futurist thinking including snippets of conversations they’d had over instant messenger, photographs of sculptures, scans of paintings and lengthy 20th century manifestos. my favourites of which were a book called ‘the vagrant light of stars’ which depicted a memorial to albert einstein being launched into deep space traveling on a beam of light, and a supremacist, communist, modern art children’s book called ‘about 2 squares.’

i’d had the demos for the songs for a while and around the time I received the above documents from the band i’d been given a near final version of the album. what struck me immediately was that whilst minimal in its conception, cinematically speaking the sounds on the record created some incredibly beautiful, richly coloured and vibrant images in my head. tracks like ‘heat death infinity splitter’ and ‘the undertow’ took my mind from a sense of something vast moving through the chaotic depths of outer space, right down to microscopic organisms and cells living in our oceans and under our skin.

bearing all of this in mind I made the cover you see now. appropriately adopting where possible various lines in supremacist, futurist and imagist visual thinking, i created a wide-format piece that i felt resonated with the music as much as with those old explorations of artistic expression. if those were one band of hapless, anti-establishment types trying to evolve our way of thinking about and perceiving the world, here was another band with their designer in tow – trying his best at the impossible task of visualizing music for those who’ve seen everything before.

i understand you’re a fan of 65daysofstatic – how important is it, do you think, that the designer creating cover art engages with or enjoys the music?

in 2006 i wrote to 65 and asked if my business partner giles and I could make their website. i’d seen them live in 2005 in london and knew that – like many of the bands I’ve asked to work with over the years – i’d make my best work if their music was the soundtrack to it. little did I know we’d become such good friends and that I’d be sitting here today having finished not just my third album cover for them, but also the best record cover I think I’ve made to date.

from my perspective being a fan of the music is essential. i give talks to independent filmmakers here in New york on the same subject. I implore them to not pay money to anyone that isn’t already immediately and very clearly a fan of the film they have made. money cannot and will not ever be enough motivation to make a truly beautiful and appropriate design or piece of artwork. despite having worked over 10 years in this role, i continue produce some of my worst work when I am not a fan of the film or music i’m working to support.

the graphic designer david carson pointed out that it’s a gross misconception that you should not judge a book by its cover. everything about how a band presents itself is a reflection of the amount they have cared for and thought about the the music they have made. a record cover is a huge responsibility, particularly so when you’re handed a record like ‘wild light.’ something this good demands to be heard and it’s my job to make sure someone clicks on that cover on the net or picks up that record in the store, even if just out of curiosity. It’s debatable to this day whether an image can represent a sound, but I work based on the belief that you can at least try to achieve such a thing.

an excerpt from this interview can be found on the creative review website here, along with some write-ups of some other great covers. we hope the above interview gives people some further insight into what it’s like working with a band like 65daysofstatic, who’s intense worth-ethic continues to push us to new levels.

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caspar vs. monocle magazine_022813

monocle march 2013 cover

caspar was recently interviewed for monocle magazine. here’s an excerpt from the piece –

describe your work with bands.
i am responsible for visually creating their sound. i get images in my head from listening to their music and create everything from sleeves, posters and videos to documentaries. i only work with bands i like.

is art more influential in the music business now?
record labels have faded. bands work with us on artwork and we in turn can become a catalyst for them working with each other. it’s a creative nucleus. we all talk online but it’s as though we’re meeting up in a bar. it’s unusual that so many bands are grouped around us, linked by interest in our design ethic rather than necessarily sharing a musical theme. i’m treated like a band member – i’ve even gone on tour.

we’d like to thank belinda bamber for conducting such a wonderful interview, and of course?joshua simpson?for taking the great photographs.

you can read the rest of the interview here. the magazine itself is in stores now.

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sonoio red
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this is something new we’ve been working on with SONOIO. stay tuned.

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worth a listen –
richard skelton, clint mansell, floating points_071409

hello again.

i’ve also listed a few of my favourite tracks from this month to check out.

so far this month:

Richard Skelton - Marking Time

richard skelton – grange
richard skelton – marking time – type records


richard skelton’s seminal ‘marking time’ finally gets a re-release on type records. this is an album of great, haunting beauty & has been a really effecting listen over the last year or so. richard’s music mainly consists of the interplay between bowed piano, strings, piano & location recording ambiance. richard runs his own label, sustain release, that put’s out bespoke cd packages to order for all his personal & side project releases. it’s worth checking out the packaging at his website, here. the thought that goes into the design is so spot on with the music he creates.

Moon Sountrack (Score by Clint Mansell)

clint mansell – welcome to lunar industries (three year stretch….)
clint mansell – moon sountrack – black records

clint mansell’s soundtrack to film, moon has just come out here in the uk. the film however has not. bloody typical. same thing happened with darren aronofsky’s, the fountain. the only upshot of this was that i could fully immerse myself in the music before seeing the film & i felt this really helped with the emotional impact that the fountain managed to deliver. it’s also good that the others at the new york arm of version industries that have seen moon, are good at keeping spoilers to themselves!

Floating Points - J&W Beat E.P

floating points – j&w beat
floating points – j&w beat e.p – planet-mu

brand new signing to planet-mu, floating points has already been tearing things up with his ‘love me like this’ e.p from earlier in the year. this is an awesome two track e.p that weaves heavy melodic synth work into the already label established dubstep sound. tight drum work & a wicked hook on the first track made me pick this one as my last track of the month.

so that’s it for this month! next month they’ll be another bunch of other tracks that i think deserve some respect (i’m looking at you already, falty dl!)

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shelean newman_060309

sheleannewman.com

the second site from our ongoing collaboration with nashville’s grandvista music is now live. it’s the new online home of shelean newman, a singer also from tennessee who we’ve had the great pleasure of working with over the last month or so. dig in.

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worth a listen –
boxcutter, various production & georgia’s horse, mark pritchard_042009

hello again.

another month, another load of great tracks that hit all the right spots. what makes this post a little bit different to my last is that i will be sharing a piece of my current personal musical output with you.

for those that don’t know, i mainly make electronic based music under the moniker, accelra. i’ve been making music for as long as i remember but really started getting in the production side of things around ’97. since then i’ve shared bills with artists such as venetian snares, ital tek, datach’i, doormouse, global goon & many others. i thought it would be nice to share one of my recent unreleased tracks as a special treat.

also i have collected a few choice cuts from this month & beyond that i think kick-start the summer sound for this year.

so far this month:

Boxcutter - Arecibo Message

boxcutter – sidetrak
boxcutter – acrecibo message – planet-mu


the first track from boxcutter’s brand new album on planet-mu. this for me sums everything boxcutter does sonically within one track. i also recommend checking out his last two releases, glyphic & oneiric for more passionate, melody driven dubstep.

Various Production - As It Stops Raining EP

georgia’s horse – as it stops raining (various production mix)
various production/georgia’s horse – as it stops raining ep – fire records

blinding new collaboration between the ever resourceful various production and their fellow label mates on fire records. this track harkens back to the cross genre clash of various’ debut album ‘the world is gone’. great stuff. strong sleeve design from artist david bray, a long time collaborater with various production.

Mark Pritchard - ? E.P

mark pritchard – ?
mark pritchard – ? ep – ho hum

after delivering an excellent full length under his other pseudonym, harmonic 313 on warp records recently, mark pritchard is back again with a more ambient focused release. stunning use of space in the opening track ‘?’.

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worth a listen –
toasty (untold remix), faunts, jamie vex’d, la roux (skream remix)_033109

greetings.

my name is gavin & i create all the audio & music (original & remix) work here at version. i’ve decided to come out of the woodwork and share a few things about my music (personal & work related) and highlight a few of my favourite tracks right now. i’m going to make this a regular thing so you’ll get a chance to listen to a lot of my unreleased personal music alongside my odd tangential music production thoughts (ie. general moaning).

here we go…

i’ve just got up and running on logic pro 8 from my halcyon days on modplug tracker. I’ve always found it difficult to pull myself away from the comforting vertical step editing and move into the more daw related environments of logic, pro tools, cubase & sonar. after a brief stint with nuendo in which I managed to loose half a years worth of personal work to a glitch, i felt I had been burned enough. luckily logic is great! (touch wood)

i had one friend recently describe the programming pattern editor in modplug as that of entering mindless data into an excel spreadsheet. no amount of explanation of step gate sequencing of individual samples helped move his opinion. i see no problem entering hex values to make music, i mean we do it to control colours on a website!

anyway. i hope to be able to share a few personal music projects over some of my updates, that aren’t the client ones you might have heard if you’ve visited some of our recent websites (such as house of jackie brown).

so far this month:

Toasty - The Knowledge (Untold Remix)

toasty – the knowledge (untold remix)
hfrmx001ii – hotflush recordings


untold’s awesome remix of the already wicked original, released back in 2004. it’s also worth checking out the other remix of ‘the knowledge’ by vex’d on the previous remix ep.

faunts – feel.love.thinking.of
faunts – feel.love.thinking.of – friendly fire recordings

the opening title track to their second album. i really got into these guys after hearing their epic 80’s synth workout “m4” on the end credits of the mass effect game.

Jamie Vex'd - In System Travel EP

jamie vex’d – radiant industry
jamie vex’d – in system travel ep – planet-mu

the first official release from one half of vex’d on planet-mu. this for me is the standout track from his ep.

La Roux - In For The Kill EP

la roux – in for the kll (skream’s “let’s get ravey” mix)
la roux – in for the kill – polydor

it’s not often that a remix outdoes the original but I think skream has managed it.

next time I’ll post one of my new tracks once my new reference headphones have broken in!

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