We all have our favourite bands and music artists. We all have our favourite albums - yes, albums. Remember them? Collections of songs. Music isn't often presented this way any more - nowadays so much of music is about individual tracks. Tracks on a playlist or tracks that appear randomly as part of a never-ending stream of noise.
But albums were - and still are - a bit special. Pink Floyd's The Wall is a collection of songs that takes us on a journey. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis is a set of songs that might sound out of place if they weren't part of the collection.
An album has an opening song - something that sets the scene or prepares you in for what's to follow. An album has a closer - that last track that leaves you satisfied with what you've just heard but also, perhaps, making you want to listen to the whole thing all over again.
Think of a classic album like Supertramp's Crime Of The Century. Opener: School, with it's eerie harmonica and gentle guitar. Closer: Crime Of The Century; bombast, orchestra, sadness, disaster. And sandwiched between the two an array of mood changes and melodies: Bloody Well Right, Dreamer, Hide In Your Shell. These songs belong together.
We wanted to create some wall art to celebrate the album - and not just a handful of classic albums but ANY album. Everyone has albums that are special to them, so it didn't seem right to limit our artworks to just a few popular albums - we wanted these prints to be a reminder of something special, a way of celebrating the music you love.
While we were looking for ideas we came across a Kickstarter project that showed artworks for albums based on the playing times of their tracks. Great idea!
Why did we like the idea? Because an album is a collection of related songs, so an artwork based on the album's tracks shows all the songs together - it celebrates the whole work in a beautiful, cohesive way.
Every album has a rhythm, quite independent of the rhythm of the songs themselves. An album's rhythm is expressed not only in the contrasting pace of music from one track to the next, but also in the different playing times of each track.
Sometimes artists choose to place long songs after short songs, sometimes they don't. Sometimes when you see the running times depicted visually you begin to see patterns in albums that aren't immediately apparent when you listen to them.
Artwork based on the running times of an album's tracks results in a unique piece for every album, and this is important because every album is itself unique. The artwork also looks very beautiful, very graphic, very geometric - this is important because it's art that's designed to be seen and enjoyed. You don't want something visually unattractive hanging on your wall (at least, we don't!).
Our favourite ways to portray an album is as a series of 'songcircles', where each song is shown as a circle, or as a series of broad lines, where each line represents a song. Rather than try and explain these pictures in words, it's much easier just to look at the pictures - and the identical point is true of music too; trying to explain a piece of music using words is rendered pointless when you can simply listen to the music!
We like that artworks based on track length have a consistency. All the albums by an artist have a consistent look when you put them next to one another, even though the precise details and patterns of each one is different. This is often in contrast with the original album artworks, which were sometimes created by a range of different artists over many years.
Think Pink Floyd again. Even albums recorded and released as close together as The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here have very different (and equally striking) original album art.
Original album art has many jobs to do. It needs to differentiate the album from earlier works by the same artist. It needs to represent the album. It needs to sell the album. It needs to be congruent with the music on the album. It needs to be something that the artist can live with. Artwork based on the lengths of the tracks on an album have none of these restrictions.
We think the ultimate test for any art is whether you love it. The fact that an artwork you love is a visualisation of an album recorded by your favourite music artist is a happy bonus.
These graphic artworks are not in any way a replacement for the original album art but they are a way of displaying beautiful art that has a strong connection to music you love. They also allow you to hide a reference to your favourite band (or artist) in plain sight in your home. And when someone asks what it is, you'll be able to talk all about your favourite album.
So, what would your favourite album look like? Drop us a comment to let us know the album and the artist. We'll create the artwork and post it on Instagram or on our website.
Our gallery of graphic artwork based on albums is a great place to see how this graphic artwork looks for numerous different artists and albums. Click here to see the gallery.
See the geometric art for 10 Classic Albums here.