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Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

by Dylan Muhlenberg / 17.02.2010

As convenient as an iPod is (other music players are available), the problem with technology is that it strips music of its tactile aesthetics. It’s one thing having the complete Pink Floyd back catalogue on mp3, but to have hard copies in LP, especially when it doubles as art, well that’s connoisseurship.

When I was still a little spermatozoon chilling in my daddy’s nuts, he used his first SADF pay packet to buy himself an amplifier, a turntable and a pair of speakers. 21 years after fighting my way out of my mom’s vagina I inherited all of this along with his music collection, which comprised mainly seventies rock bands like Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones and what-have-you. Then he had a vasectomy and now he listens to Pink. Anyway, I’ve still got my balls and a hard-on for vintage rock. So obviously I went to the Storm Thorgerson exhibition at the Bell-Roberts Gallery, which came to Cape Town a few years back.

Who?

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Storm Thorgerson is responsible for rock-art that’s covered Floyd, Led Zep, Sabbath, Audioslave, The Mars Volta, and more. The visual language speaks of surreal tongue in cheek imagery that Storm calls exstallations – installations in outside places. Indifference is futile.

Says Storm: ‘I like to create things that are unlikely (dog in designer shorts), unbelievable (beds on a beach) and unacceptable (setting a man on fire) which might incline people to doubt what they see.’
Thorgerson has created 20 Pink Floyd album covers, has been nominated for seven Grammy awards, been honoured by Billboard and MTV as best director and has had five Rolling Stone covers.

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

So, how’s he do it?
Speaking of his company Hipgnosis, Storm says: ‘Rather the computer in the head than the one on the desk. We like to think of ourselves as translators. We hope to translate an audio event, the music, into a visual event – the cover. We invariably listen to the music in question, read and re-read the lyrics and talk in depth – or at least as much as they permit – to the musicians about their work. We try jolly hard to be original, as much as one can ever be. We stage events, erect sculptures, invent complex props, build sets, orchestrate actors – in effect we arrange the improbable, locate it in some unlikely spot and then take a carefully composed photograph.’
What else?
Well if I include Waddy Jones then this article is bound to go viral, and so in order to get more hits I’m obliged to mention Die Antwoord. Like Storm, they understand a thing or two about the complete package. That music isn’t just about the music, but has got to do with the bells and whistles too. Just look at how many mainstream people wear Ramones T-shirts without knowing anything about their music. It’s like Francois van Coke’s manboob says, ‘But you don’t really care for music, do you?’ And that, friends, is the power of album art, that it can convince someone to give a band a listen based purely on an image. And when that image complements the sound, well that’s music to anyone’s ears.

Black Sabbath

Pink Floyd - Animals

Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door

Phish - Slip Stitch and Pass

The Mars Volta - Deloused in the Comatorium

Muse - Absolution

Audioslave

Shpongle - Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland

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RESPONSES (9)
  1. tara says:

    I miss record covers.

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  2. mjg says:

    don’t presume that you are my friend.

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  3. Ace says:

    Got Led Zeppelin 4 from Milnerton market, also Johnny Cash, and a Markie Mark and the Funky bunch!

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  4. Lisa says:

    i also miss record covers. and i hate hate hate it when bands/artists assume they can just have a “funky” picture of themselves on a cd cover and that’ll do. that won’t do. not in the slightest

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  5. Gary says:

    I fondly remember awaiting my latest Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention LPs and then spending weeks searching the album for hidden ”conceptual continuity”

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  6. simmo says:

    love vintage rock… so my feeling, so much raw emotion and soul. storm if you are in durban next week please come check out our Black Hawk winter range launch, the entire range is 70’s rock inspired. here for more details… http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=311894379197

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  7. Sara says:

    did you notice the led Zep album cover references in Avatar?

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  8. durbanpoison says:

    fuck art, let’s dance!

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