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Best Record Sleeves: February

Despite Omar S’s well publicised thoughts on the matter, February proved to be yet another excellent month for record sleeves with eye catching design.

Speaking to us earlier this week, Dave ‘Function’ Sumner professed to be unsure what Juan Mendez’s  artistic intentions for the cover image that adorns his long awaited debut album Incubation were. The artist more commonly known as Silent Servant has developed a penchant for visuals that lead you to draw your own conclusions, with the stark cut out eyeball floating in a chair strangely reminscent of Andy Votel’s work for Demdike Stare’s Tryptych releases.

Having been absent from this column for a couple of months, Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave label were back with a vengeance in February, delivering two albums on their Cititrax sub label that caught the eye as much as captivated the ear. Digital artist Spencer Longo sourced the artwork for the long awaited Future Fusion LP from Streetwalker from band member Beau Wanzer’s own extensive collection of sci-fi comics, which kept the design in-keeping with the hand crafted reconfiguration of the music. The label’s artistic endeavours for the Immaterial Visions LP from The KVB were equally impressive, if not quite as clear cut, looking like a soft focus manifestation of front man Klaus Von Barrel.

The self-titled debut release from Acteurs marked the first instance in which the Public Information label handed over full creative control for a release to the artist they are working with. The results justified this decision as Jeremy Lemos & Brian Case adapted a striking image from the Brazilian photographer Thiago Vidotto for the cover amidst some subtle breaks in the typography and surrounding frame.

Words have already been published elsewhere on this site with regards to how impressive a label debut Call Super’s The Present Tense was, but Houndstooth get extra credit for the sleeve design which not only implements their logo in a wonderful pattern but also encases the record in a stickered image from the producer’s father David – a celebrated artist in his own right – that seriously questions your desire to listen to the record.

A constant throughout the various projects and aliases Alex Egan has been responsible for is a proclaimed love for records, so it was nice to see the producer and DJ’s output as The Draughtsman appear on vinyl in impressive fashion courtesy of How The Other Half Lives. Spread across two slabs of clear green wax, the 1694 EP was one of those releases where just one photograph can’t possibly do justice to the excellent design work – which Egan himself was also responsible for. 

Samuel Kerridge’s Downwards debut looked pretty much like any other Downwards release until you slipped out the inner sleeve depicting the kind of arcane, hellish imagery that feels totally suited to the music – kudos to the label’s regular visual artist Claude Eden for that. Shifted’s inaugural volume of The Cold Light saw his Avian label implement a subtle change in their approach to sleeve design whilst the soft pink tone of Blawan and Surgeon’s collaborative release as Trade strengthened the possibility of it being an ode to the classic London clubnight of the same name.

The 2nd Drop label know a thing or two about slick sleeve art and their triple vinyl compilation Future Foundations maintained this approach, pairing some striking patterned visuals from illustrator Adam Dally with artistic direction from Wifey LDN’s Ralph Solly. Equally visually impressive was the second release in Bleep’s highly sought after Green Series which is what you’d expect when a high profile design agency like GiveUp Art and photographer Shaun Bloodworth are involved. Zhou’s return to Punch Drunk was made all the more memorable by some superlative printed sleeve design by Tape Echo’s Alex Digard  whilst Thomas Valentine’s indistinct visuals for Rainer Veil’s Modern Love debut were a perfect visual foil for the murky haze of the music within.

We couldn’t work out exactly who was responsible for the impressive multi faceted sleeve art that adorned Moiré’s Werk Discs debut, Finnish visual artist Lotta-Liina Salonen provided the perfect hazy cover image to the Clouds long player on RAMP Recordings and People’s Potential Unlimited looked to Sacred Bones printmaker Keegan Cooke to conjure up the wonderfully downtrodden cover art for their recent retrospective of The Trash Company. 

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