In today's age of digital music, I wonder how often the album artwork is considered a by-product of the actual release? For me, I need the artwork, even if it's just a bunch of pixels on a computer screen! Having lived through vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs to finally (and grudgingly) accept that my ongoing future collection will no longer be physical products, but instead just a bunch of 1s and 0s on a hard disc, the importance of the cover art has only increased.
So often the artwork is a vital part of an album's concept, helping to consolidate an idea, like the portrait of Corey Arcane on Kangding Ray's recent album. Perhaps the resurgence of vinyl and cassette sales in recent years has been bolstered by diehard, music loving stalwarts, pursuing the real, tangible product, complete with glorious artwork, liner notes, lyrics and photos?
Long live the album cover!
In celebration, I've put together a few of the releases I found particularly arresting or memorable in 2015.
8 Years Fachwerk
Dawn Mok - Eternal Love
Ipman - Depatterning
Pittsburgh Track Authority - Your Situation
Kangding Ray - Cory Arcane
Rival Consoles - Howl
Helena Hauff - Discreet Desires
Lee Bannon - Pattern of Excel
Slam Present Transmissions: Glasgow
FABRICLIVE 81: Monki
Surgeon / Blawan / Various - Tiptop Audio Presents: Various Artists 001
D5 - Sides of Space
Venetian Snares - Your Face
Four Tet - Morning / Evening
Emily Hall - Folie à Deux
Post Scriptum - Post Scriptum 01
Mark Fell & Gabor Lazar - The Neurobiology of Moral Decision Making
Cate - Heavy Breathing
House Shoes - House Shoes Presents: The Gift: Volume Seven
Mariah - Utakata No Hibi
Volte-Face - Charlatan EP
Valet - Nature
Martyn - Block the Box
Consumer Electronics - Repetition Reinforcement
Linkwood - Expressions
Bjork - Vulnicura
Legowelt - Anaconda Flow
Various Artists - Sherwood At The Controls: Volume 1 1979 - 1984
Lapalux - Lustmore
Hedge Maze - Dysania
Dylan Stark - Heartland
Policy - The Republic
Although not unique to 100% Silk I particularly liked this opened-cassette-inlay-cover-style presention which should be used for all release types, not just cassettes.
Vril - Portal
Frank Bretschneider - Isolation
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
The Black Dog - Neither / Neither
Various - I Have A Question
On a related note, it was good to see the recent article Top 10 Record Sleeve Designers on DJ Broadcast, helping to highlight the increasingly overlooked art of the album cover.