Critique! 9 – Audiomachine – Existence

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Audiomachine creates music for motion picture advertising. You may have heard some of their scores in Prometheus, or Thor The Dark World.

The artwork for Audiomachine’s new release, Existence, was created by the fantastic Android Jones. Seeing the cover on the itunes store, it was instantly recognizable as one of Jones’ works. The artwork in it’s entirety can be seen on his facebook fan page.

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The cropped version (final album artwork) is ethereal and epic. Jones uses a rich color palette, elaborate shapes and patterns, and human figures in a way that works well with audiomachine’s orchestral music. Interestingly, the type treatment of “Existence” is reminiscent of the logo for the “Aliens” film series.

What do you think?


Critique! 8 – Mat Zo – Damage Control

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Mat Zo’s debut album “Damage Control” was released on iTunes on November 5th.
The album cover depicts a widening crack on a ground surface ending/ beginning at a point where there is a silhouette of a man standing. 

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An article on Dancing Astronaut reveals, “In a similar vein to Random Access Memories, Damage Control looks to the past for inspiration. “I was listening to a lot of 60′s and 70′s soul, punk, and pop — a lot of old music,” Zo explains.

www.dancingastronaut.com

There is great use of White space and contrast. There is also a nice feeling of distance with no additional visual cues aside from the large crack in the “ground”. Looking closely at the figure in the background you’ll notice that the man is casting a shadow which is a nice detail. The psychedelic marbling effect may be a reflection of the type of music on the album. I like how the treatment of the cover makes me think about how/if it depicts the title. Is the silhouette of the man in the background causing this earthquake or putting an end to it? The small cracks that emimate from the larger chasm are also nice details. The minimalist approach works well here.


Critique! 5 – Get Scared “Everyone’s Out To Get Me”

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Available now for pre-order and expected to be released on November 11th is “Everyone’s Out To Get Me” by Get Scared. The cover depicts a man in the center of a room in a huddled/ distraught posture. Surrounding this character is what looks like amorphous dark smoke with objects thrown in (a telescope, books, papers etc.)

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The line work looks crisp and well drawn. When looking at the piece there is a sense of unease, distress, and paranoia, which, judging by the title of the album, seems fitting. The color palette is harmonious. Most of the colors are muted with a few nice brighter pops of color. Regarding the wood grain, it’s really well done and not over worked. The artwork also kind of tells a story which is nice to see.

The distressed effect on the band’s logo and the messy treatment of the title work well with the overall mood of the cover.

What do you think?


Critique! 4

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One of the most talked about albums over the past few weeks has been Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?). Ylvis is a comedic music duo hailing from Norway. They have recently been signed by Warner Music Group, and have performed at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas.

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“‘The Fox’…continues to surge on the U.S. charts. The single is currently No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and just cracked the Top 20 on iTunes.” – Billboard.com
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The album cover is in grayscale aside from the title, which is orange. The cover is a beautiful illustration of a fox in the center, with two fox skulls on either side. There is a crown on the fox in the center, as well as floral elements and leaves.

The Illustration is detailed and well executed using what appears to be pen ink and white plaka. It’s a little creepy and adorable at the same time. The pointslist approach on the two skulls is a nice touch and gives the illusion that they are further away than the central fox. The title does feel like an aferthought. The way the “F” is connected to the “O” bothers me and it becomes somewhat difficult to read over the illustration. The paper texture reminds me of nice Canson paper. I’m not sure if the crown and roses symbolize anything or if they are simply there as ornamentation, but either way they are an interesting addition to what could have been just a nice rendering/ interpretation of a fox and skulls.

Overall, the concept is ok, the illustration is great, and the typography isn’t up to par.

What do you think?

Critique! 3

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Avicii’s latest album titled “True” offers up a simplistic approach to album art. The title is the main focus here. “True” which appears to be hand drawn/inked is in white set against a dark grey background, with a black silhouetted figure. Looking closely at the type, it is semi-transparent, and the edge that defines the figure in the background can be seen through it. With such stark contrast between the background and type treatment, the text might have benefited from being completely opaque. The edges that are seen through the type do not contribute anything to the image, and they do not assist the viewer in determining what the silhouette is. Avicii’s logo is placed underneath the type treatment and at the bottom is a white bar with the record label’s name and logo. This bar may have been the marketing team’s addition, however it detracts from the overall image.

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I am a fan of hand drawn type and the brushed ink effect adds some character to an otherwise bland cover.

Simplicity and high contrast definately help the album stand out on itunes (not to mention the marketing placement and publicity), but I’m not sure if there’s anything about it that is descriptive of the music. It isn’t anything I haven’t seen before.

What are your thoughts?

Critique! 2

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On September 17th Maybach Music Group released Self Made Vol.3, a compilation of various artists including Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, and Omarion. The album features a golden “3” on a plain black background with the title written underneath in metallic gold type. The “3” is the prominent part of the design and is very well done. The gold interpretation of flourishes from the US dollar bill was well executed and conveys a rich quality. Adding any extraneous flourishes in the background would have detracted for the bold eye-catching design. There was a refreshing departure from the look of the previous two releases (Self Made Vol.1 & 2), which featured a group shot of the artists.

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Alternate artwork was also created to mimic the lettering on a US dollar bill and is being used for promotional purposes on iTunes. This design is not as strong and has more of a gritty quality due to the textures used.

I would have liked to see an “M” in the typography instead of the MMG logo replacing the “M”. Maybe the MMG logo could have been placed between the two words. There could have also been a little less lens flare, and more of a natural shine but overall, I think the concept and design is a success.

What do you think?

Critique #1

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Everyone loves a good critique every now and then. Well, I’d like to make “Critique!” a weekly series. “Critique” will be dedicated to analyzing and reviewing cd/album/mp3 cover design and artwork. Many blogs and websites are focused on the music and neglect to mention the album artwork, and that’s where we come in!

When posting opinions or comments they should be positive and constructive.

Let’s start the first official Critique with Drake’s new album, “Nothing Was The Same”.
The illustration was done by Kadir Nelson, whom also created the cover art for “Michael” by Michael Jackson. In the illustration Drake’s present self appears to be looking off into the distance or past while his younger self seems to be looking forward to the future. The background is a slightly cloudy blue sky which may be representational of clarity.

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I don’t particularly think the likeness is quite there, and I wish there was more of an expression on Drake’s face. I do admire the realistic approach and when viewing his other works i respect his artistic voice. The skin tone seems too dark and I’m also not thrilled with the sky background. There could have been some different colors integrated to give the artwork more depth and to bring in another dimension. Even the shadows in the face might have benefited from some subtle blue or purple tones. The blue sky feels generic and unimaginative.

The title of the album is small and located in the bottom left corner of the image, which when viewed at thumbnail size on itunes and other digital distributors, may be difficult to read.

In a statement from Drake he says that the artwork represents, “most clean, and concise thoughts from now, and my best recollection of the past” – http://www.theboombox.com/drake-nothing-was-the-same-art

With this statement in mind I wish there were more thought put into this.

What are your thoughts?