Mar 29, 2006

As I expected, part two of the Borrowed Time feature went up today at CBR. Click here to get Joe's thoughts on the book and learn a little bit about his art and his process.
The second part of the Borrowed Time feature at CBR was supposed to be up yesterday but, for reasons beyond my knowledge, it never appeared. Well-placed sources tell me it should be coming today, and I will link it when it does.

We're also going to be featured sometime soon over at Newsarama. More info on that as it becomes available.

May 10th. Save the date.

Mar 22, 2006

The Album Cover Project, Part Three
(Part One, Part Two)

It's a two-for-one this time, owing to the fact that I might be a bit late with the next installment. First up is Forever Changes by Love:

The content: a beautiful illustration by Bob Pepper (also known for some very fine Philip K. Dick book covers, among other things), presented with the simplicity it demands by designer William S. Harvey. The message: psychedelic mind meld = quality tunes. The picture: not special. I never said they'd all be brilliant.

Couple that with Sound Verite, from Love's spiritual descendants, The Make-Up:

The content: a pleasant homage to the original Pepper/Harvey collab, rendered this time in simple but virulent red and black. The message: we love Love, and you should too. The picture: see above.

The Love cover is one of the best of the psychedelic era for two reasons: the illustration itself is brilliant, and it's presented well. One would forgive the designer in this case if he had chosen to go over the top - that was the style of the time - but Harvey wisely opts instead to let it stand on its own, adding only a simple border and minimal typography. A lot of covers from this era fall short of greatness because they try too hard. The Forever Changes cover remains relevant because it tries just hard enough.

The Make-Up was one of the greatest bands of the nineties, hands down. That may not be widely known but it is nonetheless true. This particular cover is emblematic of their tendency to borrow from the past and put their own spin on it, a fact also reflected by the music it contains.

What we have here is one great band paying tribute to another, not just through music but also through graphics. It's been tried plenty of times (do we ever need to see another ripoff of the Abbey Road cover?), but seldom is it done in a way that's this pure and positive. Good stuff.

Mar 12, 2006

The Album Cover Project, Part Two
(Manifesto/Part One)

Miles Davis - In Person Friday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco, Volume One

(click for larger version)

The content: a haunting black and white shot of Miles lighting a smoke, alone save for the face of a woman. The message: mood, and lots of it. The picture: shadows, scotch, smoke...what else? Obvious, maybe, but so be it.

This is one of my favorite jazz album covers, owing largely to the fact that the composition is exquisite. Strong, even vibrant typography sits side-by-side with one of the most evocative pictures ever to grace a sleeve. The sense of Miles as a personality is obvious, both in terms of his figure dominating the scene and the way in which he's striking an indifferent, thoughtful pose. But this cover also has a way of bringing out a sense of Miles Davis the man. Look closely at the face of the woman: what is she thinking? Is she worried? Jilted? Intimidated? Has Miles just left her following a tryst? Or is he simply enjoying a smoke after a particularly hot performance, and this woman wants nothing more than a piece of his world? These and any number of other possibilities are all suggested, and by doing so the cover both stands on its own and serves the music it holds.

I don't know much about this cover, which means that I sadly can't credit the photographer. I do know that the album was recorded in 1961, shortly after Coltrane left the group, and that this was the first official live recording Davis ever released. This particular record is a small sliver of the complete recordings, which have since been released on CD with basically the same album art. I'd recommend it to anybody with even a passing interest in jazz.

I didn't include a picture of the back cover this time because it's just text and wouldn't translate very well to this forum. The notes, however, are interesting. They're more a subjective portrait of Davis than they are liner notes for the record, but I prefer that in a way. In particular I'm fond of this excerpt:

At one point, almost as if seeking to get his mind off recording, he gave a vivid lecture, with illustrations, on the theory and practice of the art of picking pockets.

One of a kind.

Mar 11, 2006

I've been spending as much time as I can over the past week or so trying to put together the promo website for Borrowed Time. Here's a preliminary screencap of the homepage:

(click for larger version)

That illustration is the work of Tony Larson and his collaborator Mark Penxa, and it quite obviously rules. It's an image that will be making several more appearances before all is said and done.

I'm working with Apple's iWeb to build the site, and it's the strangest program I've ever used. It's easier than Dreamweaver or GoLive, but not nearly as flexible. It's harder than Blogger or Wordpress, but more versatile. It happens to suit my purposes pretty well, but at the same time I can't imagine it being useful to a large number of people.

There's going to be a weblog, as well, which should be up and running very soon. Also don't forget to stay up to date with Joe Infurnari, without whom this book just doesn't make as much sense as it does. His arrival on this project was serendipitous in a way that can only mean big things. The wait has been worth it for me, and it will be worth it for you.