This winter I worked concurrently on two album projects: John B’s Light Speed and High Contrast’s The Agony & The Ecstasy. Both projects are for different artists and evolved in different ways, but since the art was completed and wheels were set in motion, I’ve been noticing increasing unintended parallels between the two projects and their artwork.
Both album covers were driven by the artists themselves and both had different motivations- High Contrast rather controversially wanted the baroque Caravaggio classic The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew to represent The Agony & The Ecstasy, while John B had some press photos done last year complete with full make-up and styling, one of which he wanted to use for his album cover.
Both albums use transitional serif typefaces – I tend not to use serifs very often in my line of work, so two at once was a rarity! HC pushed for Perpetua on his – I have to admit this wouldn’t have been my first choice (the upper-case U having a tail bugs me) – I was angling for either Garamond (historically appropriate) or Bodoni (classical Italian), but Perpetua works in the entirety of the project. John left it up to me so I took the extravagant haute-fashion stylings of his photos and decided Baskerville fit that aesthetic and the more grown-up sound of this album quite well.
As well as both being driven by the artists’ own motivations for the cover image and both using transitional serif typefaces for different reasons, the most curious parallel that struck me was in this interview John B did with This Is Drum & Bass:
TiD&B: If you could compare your sound, and your new album to perhaps a work of art, what would it be?
John B: No idea… Maybe one of those crazy Renaissance scenes where there’s loads of stuff going on; someone dying from a dagger wound, a bunch of sexy Renaissance ladies with their boobies showing, some angels, and a lion or two.
I’m reasonably sure John hadn’t seen HC’s album cover at the time he did this interview, but it struck me as curious that he pretty much described it (minus the boobies and lions, of course) to analogise his own sound!
Lastly, both albums were a long time coming! It has been six years since Electrostep and five since Tough Guys Don’t Dance, both of which facts are a slightly alarming reminder of how long I have been doing my job now!
Light Speed is out now on Beta Recordings, and The Agony & The Ecstasy is out tomorrow on Hospital Records.