Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins – Fascinating Fingers

Jim Mahfood was asked to illustrate the cover for a new Shawn Lee / Clutchy Hopkins collaboration, Fascinating Fingers, being released in October. He previously illustrated the cover of their album Clutch Of The Tiger, which I mentioned back in April. This one seems to be a bit looser, which I like. He has more images on his blog.

Jim Mahfood
Shawn Lee
Clutchy Hopkins

Harmonic 313 – When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence

Harmonic 313 (aka Mark Pitchard) released When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence back in February on Warp Records. Heavy on the synth-laden robotic beats, the album is a satisfying mix of Detroit techno, dubstep and instrumental hip-hop worthy of its title. It is essentially the soundtrack for when robots take over the human race, with track 4 proclaiming “Music is now a thing of the past”, urging the listener to download a music substitute system.

While the design work was handled by Manuel Sepulveda, the HAL-esque cover uses a photo taken from the book Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by San Fransisco-based photographer Mark Richards. It is an art book featuring portraits of vintage computers in the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. Robert Scoble has a lengthy interview with Richards about the book here.

One of two tracks to feature vocals, “Battlestar”, makes a Dilla connection by featuring rappers Phat Kat and Slum Village’s Elzhi. The video for the track (below), Harmonic’s first video, was created by Sixty40, an Australian design and animation studio led by Matt Taylor and Mark Simpson. It was shot stereoscopically using two cameras to create a sense of depth, much like those animated 3D photo gifs you see around the nternet. The video’s also been nominated for an award by the Portable Film Festival.

Harmonic 313
Mark Richards
Core Memory @
Core Memory @ Boing Boing
Manuel Sepulveda
Warp Records

Mayer Hawthorne – "Maybe So, Maybe No"

The second video for Stones Throw artist’s Mayer Hawthorne debut, A Strange Arrangement, was released yesterday. Featuring skaters, Venice Beach and The Do-Over, it’s convinced me that Hawthorne is awesome. It was directed by Henry DeMaio who also directed the video for “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” (below).

Mayer Hawthorne
Henry DeMaio
Stones Throw

Flying Lotus – Los Angeles

Yes, another Brainfeeder-related post. But I should have posted this long ago. On August 17th, electronic music artist Flying Lotus will release the final piece of his three-part L.A. EP series. The EPs are an extension of his second release on Warp Records, Los Angeles, featuring unreleased tracks and remixes by fellow producers such as Dimlite, Matthew David, Ras G, Take and others. The artwork and packaging for both the EPs and the album came about through a collaborative effort between Flying Lotus, photographer Timothy Saccenti, design studio Build and design studio Commonwealth.

Commonwealth is a New York-based studio founded in 2005 by Zoe Coombes and David Boira, experienced in manipulating materials to create organic forms for contemporary art and furniture design. The sculpture created for Los Angeles was meant to reflect the “total insanity of Flying Lotus’ style”, with photos taken at varying stages of decay. Their beautifully designed portfolio site includes more images and a video of the sculpture.

New York-based Timothy Saccenti, responsible for photographing the sculpture, has an extensive portfolio of music-related photo and video work. This includes images of Pharrel, Erykah Badu, Prefuse 73, Jamie Lidell, Lady Sovereign and a long list of other artists. In terms of Warp-related work, he’s also responsible for the cover and video for Battles’ album Mirrors, but that’s worthy of an entirely new post, really.

And finally, the design work was handled by Build, founded in 2001 by Michael C. Place, handling clients such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Getty Images and several record labels. I particularly like this record sleeve designed for artist Sky Tucker. Build also has several images of Los Angeles’ packaging on their portfolio site.

Above is a great short film posted by Commonwealth that very well could have summed up everything I just wrote. It also reveals that this project will lead to further works. Either way, Los Angeles is my favorite album of 2008, including the packaging. The covers of the album and EPs are a perfect match for the dark heavy beats within, like one of Flying Lotus’ drawings come to life. I also recommend checking out Steve Serrato’s work on Flying Lotus’ Reset.

Flying Lotus
Timothy Saccenti
Stephen Serrato
Warp Records

The Gaslamp Killer – My Troubled Mind

The Gaslamp Killer released his long-awaited first EP, My Troubled Mind, on Brainfeeder yesterday. The album is about 15 minutes of what you’d expect from GLK; A dark, beautiful collage of psychedelic samples and dusty drums. It’s available digitally through the usual outlets, like Bleep and Boomkat and also on 10″ vinyl, limited to 2000 copies.

The EP’s cover was designed by LA-based designer Ilias Panayiotou (check his portfolio on Flickr), with a photo by Theo Jemison (written about previously) on the back cover included in the digital booklet. The artwork fits right alongside the grim, grimy, red/black/white artwork for his previous releases, appropriate for delightful titles such as I Spit On Your Grave (artwork by Shepard Fairey, written about previously) and HELL And The LAKE OF FIRE Are Waiting For YOU!.

Yesterday Brainfeeder posted a link to The Gaslamp Killer’s The Gaslamp Killers mix (above, left), well worth listening to. The promotional video below includes photographic direction by Theo Jemison and post-production by LA-based artist ABCNT, with a few familiar faces showing off copies of the new EP.

The Gaslamp Killer – The Gaslamp Killers

The Gaslamp Killer
Ilias Panayiotou
Theo Jemison

Wax Poetics – The Brazil Issue

Wax Poetics recently released what could become my favorite issue of their magazine so far, dedicated to the music of Brazil. Highlighting the issue is an interview by photographers Brian Cross (B+) and Eric Coleman with one of my favorite Brazilian artists, Airto Moreira. Moreira has played with the likes of Weather Report, Quarteto Novo, George Benson, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, his wife Flora Purim (who you may have noticed in this blog’s header) and many others. The article includes great photos, two of which are by Cross, along with the image below shot by Chuck Stewart, who I’ve written about previously. The issue also includes articles on MPB-legend Gilberto Gil, composter Arthur Verocai (with great photos from the recording session for his self-titled release) and Brazilian soul artist Tim Maia. I have a lot of reading ahead of me.

Wax Poetics
Brian Cross
Eric Coleman
Airto Moreira

R.I.P. Baatin

Baatin, from the original line-up of Slum Village (with T3 and J Dilla), passed away today. T3’s now the remaining member from the original SV, with the addition of Elzhi. The photo above (Dilla, T3, Baatin) was taken by photojournalist Mpozi Mshale Tolbert (who passed away in 2006).

The first time I remember seeing Baatin was in the video for Slum Village’s “Tainted” (above) from their third album, Trinity. The image of him, his turban and his unique voice was stuck in my head for a long time. T3 and Elzhi reunited with Baatin and brought in J Dilla’s brother Illa J to record their new album, Villa Manifesto, that is supposed to be released on September 22nd.

Slum Village
Mpozi Mshale Tolbert