Friday Top 5: Album Covers of 2011
Well, it’s a little later than last year but it’s time again to turn the music down and put on your art-critic monocles and top hats. Yes, in a year where some heavy hitters came along with some high quality production, I did my best to highlight of few of the lesser known ‘other’ artists involved in completing the full album package. Just like the last two years (2009, 2010), my discriminating eye is looking for quality in a holistic sense when it comes to album artwork. Essentially my main question is whether or not it could stand on its own bringing into the discussion composition, tone, balance, introduction of text and its use, color, etc. With that said, here are a few of the best album covers for 2011.
Artist: Tsunehisa Kimura
Using an existing artist’s work to incorporate into your own is a fickle process. The National did it well last year and this year I think Cut Copy did it just as well. The overall power of the image by Kimura speaks volumes and the minimalistic packaging and subtle black border highlighting the image compliments it beautifully. Kimura is a well-known collage artist who just recently passed away in 2008. According to the band, they “saw this representing what [Zonoscope] is about; a tussle between synthetic and organic instruments. It isn’t a destruction of the old world, more a creation of the new—it looks archaic, but at the same time it’s timeless, referencing music from the past.”
Artist: Mtendere Mandowa
As a relative newcomer on the Beat-making scene, Teebs (Mtendere Mandowa) is slowly but surely making a name for himself throughout the international community. The music contained in Collections 01 is enough to foster praise, but when paired with Mandowa’s striking and unnerving image, the whole becomes that much stronger. The young Japanese artist combines organic elements in an arresting way with a fluid use of color and that combination is exactly the same way I would describe the accompanied beats. Bonus Points.
Artist: Stanley Donwood
As much as I wanted to keep this list free from any of the heavy hitters, Donwood’s work on the King of Limbs is just too incredible to not include. From the over-arching theory behind the incredible packaging to the beautiful and spooky Pagan-esque artwork itself, Donwood and Radiohead produced a set of elements that music fans all over the world could appreciate visually as well as stimulate them intellectually. The Univeral Sigh kept Radiohead fans on edge and the stories it contained were notable in their own right. However, the way the Newspaper album was prepared and the artwork contained within its full spreads were over the top. It’s ironic how this type of package is something that fans all over the world would like to cherish forever and that’s exactly the opposite of what Donwood said that he liked most about the medium. The way it ages and crumbles, once here as a static moment in time, vanished. Beautiful.
Artist: Nolen Strals
The most French New Wave award has to go to Nolen Strahls from Post Typography for his work on the Death Set’s Michel Poiccard. It’s a very Godard-esque theme, yet instills the same disconcerting nature set forth by the band itself. The font and arrangement flows well, leading your eye around the cover and what’s not to like about a woman’s fine derrière and side-boob? Overall from his work with adverts and marketing, the art is clean, readable, and interesting. That’s a good combo for any aspiring artist to emulate.
Artist: Sohale Kevin Darouian.
The best album cover award for 2011 goes to Sohale Darouian for his work on Starf*cker’s Reptilians . The tone, composition, and color all work incredibly to create a sense of depth and mystery. The one thing that originally struck me about the image was the fact that the artist did not limit himself to the area inside the border. Rather, he ventured into the no-man’s land and altered the viewer’s experience completely. This image would be the ideal beginning of a great graphic novel and I hope to see if the artist expands this same theme. The depth and strength of the artistic style along with the fantasy of the subject matter is consistent with the other worldly electronic elements from the band’s latest release. I could not think of a better representation of a band’s intent, which is what I feel any album artist should strive for.
Well, there you have it; this writer’s choice for the Top 5 Album Covers of 2011. Now I know for a fact that there were literally thousands of images released this year from some of your favorite acts and image artists, so drop us a comment below. Do you agree, disagree, or who did we snub this year?