Marc Bessant

graphic art and design studio@marcbessant.com

Malachai – Beyond Ugly

Artwork, design, Music


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Malachai_BU_cover

 

I have just delivered the artwork for the third, latest (and last?) Malachai album ‘Beyond Ugly’ and as per the previous two outings from the group it is an eclectic bag of sounds which I’ve tried to match visually with a smorgasbord of  images. The cover itself is a photograph I took of the lead singer wearing a beaten-up old ape mask and coloured contact lenses (a nod to the first album perhaps?); I was keen to be as uncompromising (ugly?) with the cover image as possible – ‘here i am!’ ‘this is me!’ – no frills, just a portrait that followed you around the room, something to put on the mantelpiece to keep the kids away from the fire, hopefully whilst listening to the record player. A cracking album thats well worth a listen.

‘and i’ll scratch yours’

Artwork, design, Music


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PG_ISY_

 

‘and i’ll scratch yours’ is the second part of the song-swap project initiated by Peter Gabriel in 2009, the prequel ‘scratch my back’ was brought out in 2010 and can be seen in various guises on this site. In the same way that Peter had seen the music, I had always seen the sleeves as being two halves of a whole, and at the same time opposites of each other; SMB was inviting, sensuous and feminine and AISY would be its dramatic, male counterpart, which I hoped would both contrast and compliment. I’d had the idea of using a ‘sting’ (or something that scratched back) fairly early on, so contacted photographer Steve Gschmeissner to asked if he could shoot some nettle leaves/stings, he kindly obliged and sent back about a dozen black and white micrographs in various states of magnification.  The resulting cover is a combination of those shots, which I then scaled and coloured before arriving at the image you can see above.

MATO

design, Music


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MATO

 

Berlin-based MATO (MeAndTheOthers) are at its core David White and Marc Mato Skah and along with many accompanying writers/musicians have produced their first album appropriately titled ‘Debut’. Marc approached me to do the design (altho he is a designer himself) to see the job through as, like myself, he had found it increasing difficult to come to a solution on a project he is so close too. Its an experimental sound which can handle the risk of an experimental look; Typography wraps round the spine, distorted photography and wax sculptures through-out and bright red vinyl in gatefold sleeve to boot.

 

INVADA present ‘APOCATASTASIS’

design, Music, posters


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With the supposed Mayan apocalypse prophecy due only 48 hrs later, this sequence of  posters for the forthcoming INVADA records super-gig - ’APOCATASTASIS’ (meaning ‘restoration to the original or primordial condition’) will be doing the rounds online/in print over the coming weeks. Dramatic NASA shots of a solar eclipse and some tight type would look smart on the wall of any underground bunker. Should be a great night as there are some fantastic bands/players in attendance, and according to some, it may be one of the last gigs on this rock, further info over at invada.co.uk

Peter Gabriel So 25 Box Set

Artwork, design, Music


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25 years (or so) ago Peter Saville and Brett Wickens finished putting together a record sleeve that would go on to become a design classic. Obviously, quite a contributory part of the sleeves success was that of the audio delights of which it housed. Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’ turned out to be an extremely successful body of work, which, although including a particular song forever linked to that video, was and is, an album of so much more than just the ‘hits’.

Fast-forward to 2012 and I was asked to come up with ideas for repackaging ‘So’ for its 25th anniversary, no pressure then, considering the sleeves already near-legendary status. It was clear from the off that what Peter and Brett had done previously had to be held in high regard, (not to mention ‘if it aint broke etc’), and that the original graphics along with Trevor Key’s portrait of PG was always going to be front and centre. Even the marketing bods agreed with that one. Beyond the original sleeve art, I had a colour palette to work with which I would continue through to the individual 12″ record sleeves and finer details like the tail-bands of the book; PG has long been an exponent of using images instead of words (even many of the hand written lyrics I saw had thumbnail sketches in the margins) and we talked about creating icons for each of the songs rather than a regular tracklist, which I set about drawing, then revising till approved – some were easier than others, some fairly obvious distillations of the lyrics/title and some – ‘Dont Give Up’ (which appears on the red sleeve) for example, were influenced by the video of the time.

For handling production, theres no one better in my opinion than Daniel Mason, we’ve worked together before and I’m totally confident that give him any design, idea or sketch he’ll get it made just how you want it. I was in safe hands production-wise, now I just had to design it. I didn’t want to do anything that clashed with the original concept, but instead support and fit around it, so I opted for minimal graphics and different materials to broaden the aesthetic.

A white wibilin-covered hinged box with the original logo/type foil-blocked (matt black and blue) on the front and the individual track icons pearl foil-blocked down the spine (visible on the most part only when reflecting light), on opening the box you are presented with a 60-page hardback book featuring many unpublished photographs from the time and more-recent writings about the recording, promoting and touring ‘So’. The book neatly holds 6 discs (4CD and 2DVD) safely tucked into pockets on the inside covers, I opted for a brighter tone/colour on the inside of these pockets, the intention being to reflect some of the ‘lighter, pop-ier’ moments of the album. Also in the box are two heavyweight LPs, the album and a 12″ of three other tracks. The sleeves are red/blue coloured board with contrasting/complimentary inner bags, the track icon designs are subtly de-bossed on the front, (they’re almost invisible, but they are there).

This project really felt like I was handling the family silver, for what it means to PG, the fans, and of course, its design history, for me thats where the real pressure was. I’m pleased with how it has turned out and I hope this ‘refurb’ goes some way to successfully and respectfully deliver the really important bits (just like in 1986).

BEAK>>

Artwork, design, Music


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BEAK> are Matt Williams, Geoff Barrow and Billy Fuller, together the sounds they make have been described as droning-kraut/post-rock, their pulsing repetitive rhythms, hypnotic bass and simple infectious drum-breaks make for a unique sound, blissfully uncomplicated and heroically uninterested in the regularly ploughed, increasingly barren record company furrows. What a wonderful breath of fresh air.

The design of their second album had to be approached in much the same way, simple, hypnotic, repetitive code, devoid of regular language yet immediately identifiable. The group immediately got behind the idea of ‘>>’ – its suits their sensibilities, you can’t google it, it doesn’t make an identifiable sound, ‘>’ is greater than ‘>’, ignorant of the usual rules and marketing arguments – I could go on, but really you should just listen to the record and you’ll see it makes perfect, if unorthodox, sense.

Materials: White board with matt black foil block ‘>>’ on cover, black inner bags and bright orange inner print just under the skin.

BEAK>> is available as double LP / CD / Special Edition CD from INVADA Records

DROKK

Artwork, design, film, Music


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Taking on a project that already has 35 years of talent associated with it is always daunting, but some things are hard to pass over, as was the case with ‘DROKK -Music inspired by Mega-City One’.

I first heard the demo’s some time ago and they were sounding the right side of edgy then and beginning to tick all the right boxes; Making music for non-existant movies has become quite fashionable of late, but what was different about this one was its creators were old-skool readers of 2000ad and, taking into account that respect for the writers and artists over the years, had a genuine motivation for making it uncompromisingly just-so. I would approach the design in much the same way, I would not (and largely could not) compete with the artists that have brought mega-city one to life for the past three-and-a-half decades, the sleeve design had to be independent of all that and stand on its own, for better or worse. I wanted to make a sleeve/formats that wouldn’t look out of place within the Mega-Cities themselves, gritty and monochromatic. Early on we (Geoff, Ben and I) met with 2000ad/Rebellion and our work could not have been more positively received, their approval meant a lot to us and from then on it was full steam ahead.  Several formats were undertaken (as seen in portfolio section) – Bunker (above), Visor, LP and Mega-Edition – all various shapes and sizes but with an overall utilitarian and minimal aesthetic throughout. Cover logotype was painted and tracks/names chassis-stamped, all textures from the surfaces of Civil Waste Disposal vehicles, crude but apposite.

Do your ears a favour - http://invada.co.uk/drokk

Cheers Drive!

design, movies, Music


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Invada records asked me to put together the LP artwork for the fantastic Cliff Martinez’ score of the film ‘Drive’. Its a double album in a gatefold sleeve, available in regular black, hot pink and picture disc versions. available from Invada.

Chick Corea – The Continents

design, Music


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I recently wrapped up this latest double CD Digipack for Chick Corea, a new composition “in the spirit of Mozart” — where jazz, Latin, and classical converge into a globally inspired concerto for jazz quintet and chamber orchestra. The Continents is performed by Corea with an all-star orchestra including members of the Harlem String Quartet and Imani Winds, among others — and conducted by Steven Mercurio at the Manhattan Center Studios.

The cover shows a hanging sculpture – ‘Roll’ – by Swedish artist  Stefan Fransson that is a mixed-media piece made out of Piano strings,vinyl and metal. The idea was to show a 3-Dimensional drawing, the strings working as lines in space, I thought the sculptures continuous sense of  motion, free flowing energy and inter-connected plates were not only indicative of the title but of the project as a whole.

 

 

‘Solsbury Hill’ 7″ picture disc

design, Music, paintings


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Tucked safely inside the ‘New Blood’ gatefold LP will be this 7″ picture disc of ‘Solsbury Hill’.

The sleeve shows a detail from one of Andy Harper’s extremely detailed ‘Grass paintings’, whilst on the vinyl itself are micrographs of local grass and plant seeds shot by Steve G.