Marc Bessant

graphic art and design studio@marcbessant.com

Real World Records 25

Artwork, design, Music


Share this post

rw25-web

 

Real World Records celebrate 25 years of musical discovery by releasing 48 tracks over 3CDs, a booklet and poster all neatly housed in a clamshell box. Wooden block prints were used to create the shapes which eventually made up the typography, scanned then coloured using the established Real World colour system evident on all their CD/LP spines. Much more on the entire 25th anniversary project here > http://25.realworldrecords.com

Back to Front

Artwork, design, Music


Share this post

PG_BtF_book

 

Firstly, my apologies for posting this a little late. 2012 saw the 25th anniversary of Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’ album (if you read further into this blog you’ll see that has been covered already), since then Peter and the band reformed for a number of shows which played the entire album ‘back to front’ live. The London shows were filmed for theatrical, followed by commercial, release. Standard dvd and blu-ray format as well as a 60 page hardback book of York Tillyer’s photographs, live album, DVD/BluRay pictured above. I have to say I’m a big fan of this format; With the decline of music sales continuing – artists/labels need to do and give more to allow/afford themselves to keep creative, and good quality, reasonably priced sets such as the above keeps everyone happy…

Happy 20th Dummy

Artwork, design, Music


Share this post

Dummy_mu

 

An awful lot has happened in twenty-years, especially in the way music and design is made. The group had already stipulated that there were to be no ‘added extras’ on this anniversary reissue and that anything that wasn’t good enough to go on it in 1994 still wasn’t good enough to go on it now – and I respect that. Subsequently, the sleeve itself was to remain (mostly) unchanged, bar a nip-and-tuck here-and-there. The first issue I had was the original artwork no longer existed, lost in the ether, with many record companies destroying the original artwork films when moving into the digital era. Island Records provided me with files from a 2009 release but it was not as per the original, slightly different typography (Helvetica instead of Akzidenz Grotesk), colour, and using copy dot scans. Therefore, this reissue became an exercise in reverse-engineering. I got a copy of the original 1994 sleeve from storage and set about matching everything to it – colour, fonts etc. The big problem was the photograph of Beth on the front was in particularly poor shape, originally grabbed from film in an edit suite at the time it was never likely to be pin-point sharp, but as Adrian Utley pointed out ‘it was never meant to be’, sadly the copy-dot scans provided only made thing worse. Attempts to grab the section of the original 16mm film was proving difficult, then fortunately the French record label (of the time) found an original scan which I was able to sharpen up just a little. Geoff had never been 100% with the back cover so this was simplified to suit. This edition would become a gatefold sleeve (the original inner-sleeve would spread across the new panels), black-core record bag and limited-edition dark blue vinyl (variant to heavyweight black). This wasn’t as easy to put back together as it ought to have been, but then things never are. The music, however, remains as good today as it did way back when. Portishead ‘Dummy’ 20th Anniversary edition will be released by Island Records in July/August.

Watch_Dogs LP

Artwork, design, Music


Share this post

Watch_Dogs_LP

 

Invada Records / Ubisoft approached me to put together the design for the LP version of the ‘Watch_Dogs’ soundtrack by Brian Reitzell; I know little about current video games but a quick web search filled me in on this ones particulars, namely, the player controls a character (a hacker) that exists both in the ‘real world’ and within a computer operating system – so this was to be the line of action I would take for the sleeve art, a split screen skull representing the real and the digital realm. Mathieu Leduc at Ubisoft had previously assembled the collages that make up the inner sleeve and together with the blue/black splatter vinyl (and regular black edition), the package was complete.

Malachai – Beyond Ugly

Artwork, design, Music


Share this post

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


Share this post

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


Share this post

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


Share this post

 

 

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


Share this post

 

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


Share this post

 

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