Our Role: Design
Marc and I have worked together for a few years now, most notably on his albums My Friend Marx and Human Herdings. Each time he calls to discuss a musical project, is always a meeting I look forward to, a) because of the creative challenge, and b) because it’s the type of meeting we have in a quiet local pub over a pint or two of Guinness.
MORALITY MORTALITY, his new music cd release seemed a fitting title for a collection of songs drawn from the previous 18 months, a time I knew were very challenging for him personally. Our initial discussions centered on the tone of the design, that the title was the hook, and his wish for the final solution to be graphic, as opposed to photographic/Illustrative in nature, so as to keep the continuity of style we used on the previous albums. The songs he said, were going to be ‘dark and miserable’!!
I usually have all the songs to listen to while at the research/ideation stage to help with the tone I should be aiming for. But as he was recording the album, I only had rough cuts of 4 songs, which to be honest didn’t sound as dark and miserable as I thought they would be. I started to look at old iconology, symbols, images of duality and much more to get my head working and came up with initial ideas for him to see, based on Sugar Skulls, simple Cross and typography forms, the use of Birds as metaphors for the title. The last solution was very strong graphically but for one reason or the other were not ticking the box. Further ideas revolved around distressed and textured backgrounds with different fonts, like those hand chiselled examples on gravestones etc, to create a somber feeling. Throughout the development process, both myself and Marc were becoming aware that the background would work better if kept a simple black and whatever sits on it should be in white.
The solution we finally used on the CD packaging came, as these things so often do, in the early hours of the morning, somewhere in that ‘floaty’ place where the mind is distilling the days detritus, and has a dual meaning. It is a representation of Marc himself, and his struggles, which now find a voice in the songs on the album, and on us, the ‘universal being’, the battles we face in our daily lives – good v bad, right v wrong, angel v demon and our relationships through our lives of which death, if even just out of sight, is at all times present.
Developing the CD packaging, again with duality in still mind, I decided on a strong cyan blue for the title, artist name and tracks on the front and back covers, repeating the use of the blue for contrast on the inside. The CD itself was done in white to stand out on the blue background, with lyric book as a leporello that slips into a die cut slit.
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Morality Mortality T’s by Noise Merchandise, London