Two Years Old

On Sunday The Cover Up turned two years old, marking my first post back in 2007 about Jeff Jank’s work for Madlib’s Yesterdays Universe. To celebrate I’ve given the blog a new look and finally purchased a domain name,

On the sidebar I’ve included a directory of artists, each linking to a list of posts I’ve written about them. Unfortunately this relies on Blogger’s search function which is currently broken. Hopefully Google will fix this problem soon. I’ve also added a Follower’s widget towards the bottom so you can “join” or subscribe to the blog.

I’ve interacted with a few great people through this blog, so I will continue. Keep checking for updates. I hope to post more frequently and consistently, to this and The Cover Down. And if you have any recommendations or comments feel free to pass them along! Thanks.

U2 – "I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight"

If you’re unable to view the video, click here.

I’m not a big U2 fan, but I am a fan of David O’Reilly’s work. O’Reilly is an Irish-born, Berlin-based artist and animator known for his abstract, experimental short-films and videos. Today he posted a video for U2’s new single “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”, written/directed by himself and designed by LA-based illustrator Jon Klassen.

While Klassen was in charge of art direction, the video still has a lot of similarities to O’Reilly’s short-film “Please Say Something” (above), a 10 minute story following the heartbreaking romantic relationship between a mouse and a cat. In terms of music videos, O’Reilly’s also done a great video for electronic music artist Venetian Snares. You can see much of the rest of his work on his Vimeo page. Octocat!

As for Jon Klassen, he is an amazing illustrator who makes use of flat shapes, textures and muted colors to create beautiful environmental images. His online portfolio includes development drawings for the claymation film Coraline and a few other animations he’s worked on including an ad for the Royal Bank of Canada.

David O’Reilly’s
Jon Klassen

Dak – Standthis

Dak’s Standthis EP is the debut release of Leaving Records, a new LA-based digital label created by electronic music artist Matthewdavid and visual artist Jesselisa under Alpha Pup Records. Their website is focused on sharing experimental music, mixes, found art and sound among other things. Their blog is worth clicking through, with a lot of great music downloads being offered.

I don’t know much about Dak, other than him being an influential experimental beatmaker in LA. Members of STMB say he was an influence to fellow-producers like Brainfeeder-member Ras G. What I do know is that his EP is one of my favorite releases this year so far. Standthis is a collage of samples and textures creating organic, sometimes Dilla-esque beats. You can download his track “Gobetween” here.

I don’t typically purchase MP3s, but for this I made an exception. The album is available on Bleep, iTunes, and a few other digital stores. Leaving is also taking pre-orders for the album on cassette tape with screen-printed artwork designed by co-founder Jesselisa and photos by Yemado (above). Jesselisa has done design work for other releases, such as Postal Service-member Dntel’s Early Works For Me If It Works For You II, which you can see in her portfolio.

Update: Here’s a picture of what the cassette tape is going to look like.

Dak – “Gobetween”

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Leaving Records

Willie Isz – Georgiavania

After several years, Lex Records continues to put out crazy, unexpected artwork with their releases. This album is no exception. Georgiavania by Willie Isz is a collaborative project between Philadelphia-based producer/MC Jneiro Jarel and Georgia-based Good Mob-associate Khujo. The album is similar in style to what Jneiro did with the Shape of Broad Minds album, but adds much more southern influence to his psychedelic, atmospheric beats. Judging from some reactions I’ve seen, the album may be an acquired taste. But it will grow on you, at least if you’re a fan of either Jneiro or Khujo’s previous work.

The strange cover art, illustrating the mysterious 51st state of Georgiavania, was illustrated by James Jarvis. The CD’s packaging folds out into the full illustration (above). The art isn’t something I expected for the album, but that’s what makes it great. It fits well with the bizarre instrumentation.

James Jarvis is a British artist who is known for his unique characters and vinyl toys, including “King Ken“. After having his designs distributed by other brands, he co-founded AMOS in 2002 to distribute his products. In April he released a great animated short-film, Onward (below), with the support of Nike, inspired by his obsession with jogging. It features the music of “folktronica” artist Caribou (previously known as Manitoba).

James Jarvis
Willie Isz
Jneiro Jarel
Khujo Goodie

Reflection Eternal – Train of Thought

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately, digging through my CD collection and playing albums I haven’t heard in-full since high school. One of those albums is Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek’s Train of Thought, released in 2000 on Rawkus Records, back when being on the label really meant something. This was one of the albums I listened to non-stop until I could recite the lyrics. That’s rare for me these days, but I’m hoping their reunion album coming out this summer, Revolutions Per Minute, can bring back some of that feeling.

The cover’s always stuck in my mind. I can’t imagine many hip-hop artists these days commissioning an oil painting for their album. The typography is a bit outdated, but the illustration by Jerome Lagarrigue remains strong. Lagarrigue is a French-born, RISD-graduate painter known for his portraiture, urban landscapes and fighting paintings. He’s done a few other covers along with several children’s books. I’m sure these small images don’t do his large paintings justice.

Nine years later, here’s Reflection Eternal’s new video for “Back Again”, directed by Dan “The Man” Melamid.

Jerome Lagarrigue
Reflection Eternal
Talib Kweli
Dan Melamid

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Bibio is an artist I’ve been interested in for a while, but I never got around to picking up one of his Mush Records releases. English-born Stephen Wilkinson is known for his atmopsheric, folk-inspired tracks, often making use of field recordings and low-fi loops of acoustic guitars. This new album, his first release on Warp Records, seems to take a bit of a departure, somewhat more electronic. It even includes a few Dilla-instrumental-inspired beats, something I didn’t expect.

The illustrations, which I think complement Bibio’s sound very well, were done by Hungary-born, UK-based artist David Foldvari, who’s work often consists of bold, black & white figures set against well-placed spot colors. His work as been used on several other album covers as well, including UK garage artist Just Jack’s second album, Overtones. The first image below was used on the cover of one of the singles, Writer’s Block, Pt. 1..

And this is a clip of Bibio piecing together the track “Sugarette” on an MPC, from the new album.

David Foldvari
Just Jack

Michael Jackson – Dangerous

As most people in the world know by now, pop music lost another legend yesterday with the death of Michael Jackson. Like a lot of people my age, I have fond memories of his music from my childhood, from watching a collection of his videos during an after-school program to trying to out-moonwalk friends. If anything, his death is a reminder that we should appreciate our iconic artists while they’re living, just as we were reminded when we lost Isaac Hayes last year, James Brown in 2006 and many others.

Today I caught a message on Twitter from Mark Schiller, founder of The Wooster Collective, mentioning that the cover of 1991 album Dangerous was painted by well-known artist Mark Ryden. I’m not sure why I didn’t know this, considering all of the issues of Juxtapoz I’ve read, where Ryden is a star. But it is an interesting bit of trivia for “lowbrow” and pop-surrealist fans, especially today. The cover is fantastically intricate with many details to pick out, reminding me a little bit of Mati Klarwein’s work. Sleevage also covered this artwork in ’07.

While browsing Ryden’s portfolio I also caught this painting of another icon, Jimi Hendrix, which appears to have been done for Rolling Stone in 1999. And for the sake of nostalgia from my younger years, I’m going to include the video for “Remember The Time”, a leading single from Dangerous, directed by John Singleton, featuring Eddie Murphy, Iman and, of course, Magic Johnson. Michael disappearing into sand always got to me as a kid…

Michael Jackson
Mark Ryden
List of covers by Mark Ryden