Beyond Our Understanding

Stadium Arcadium (2006). Art direction by Gus Van Sant

 
 

 
 

Storm Thorgerson was asked to design Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Stadium Arcadium cover. Thorgerson provided at least three possible covers for the album, however, his ideas were ultimately rejected and a simple cover featuring yellow “Superman” lettering and a blue background with planets was utilized instead. Thorgerson publicly denounced the chosen artwork, stating:

 

What lay behind the cover behaviour of Red Hot Chilli Peppers was beyond mathematics, certainly beyond our understanding. For the Stadium Arcadium cover they elected to feature the title in ‘superman’ lettering which was already old fashioned in itself, plus some “planetary embroidery” and that was it! It was trite, dull and derivative completely unlike the music, which was colourful, eclectic, imaginative, positive, and endlessly inventive. I am not often inclined to publicly criticise the work of others for I see little purchase in it, but there is, in this instance a vested interest, for the Peppers turned down our offerings in favour of this piece of unadventurous graphics. How could they? And here are three of our suggestions for your curiosity, and for my petulance.

To watch the music video for Dani California, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Advertisements

The Illusion of Depth

Concept and design by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

The sleeve of the Alan Parsons album Try Anything Once recalls at least two recurring elements of Magritte’s works, the man with the hat and the white sphere.

 
 

The Ignorant Fairy (1950)

 
 

Golconde (1953)

 
 

There is an easter egg inside the inlay. One of the pictures is a stereogram; when the viewer looks at it correctly, an image of a man and woman upside down will appear, similar to the other pictures in the album’s artwork.

Stereoscopy (also called stereoscopics or 3D imaging) is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision. The word stereoscopy derives from Greek στερεός (stereos), meaning “firm, solid”, and σκοπέω (skopeō), meaning “to look, to see”. Any stereoscopic image is called stereogram. Originally, stereogram referred to a pair of stereo images which could be viewed using a stereoscope. Magritte made several studies of stereograms in some paintings (for instance, Man with a Newspaper, The Menaced Assassin, A Taste of the Invisible, Portrait of Paul Nouge, and many others).

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Cover artwork by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

The Catapult of Desert, René Magritte, 1926

 
 

Booklet

 
 

 Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 
 

LP featuring alternate artwork inspired by M.C. Escher

 
 

Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe, is the debut album by the progressive rock group The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1976. The lyrical and musical themes – retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe — attracted a cult audience. The title of the album is taken from a popular title for a collection of Poe’s macabre tales of the same name, Tales of Mystery & Imagination, first published in 1908 and reprinted many times since.

Musicians featured on the album include vocalists Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on The Tell Tale Heart and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies on To One In Paradise. The complete line-up of bands Ambrosia and Pilot play on the record, along with keyboardist Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky.

The Raven features actor Leonard Whiting on lead vocals, with Alan Parsons performing vocals through an EMI vocoder. According to the album’s liner notes, The Raven was the first rock song to feature a digital vocoder.

The Prelude section of The Fall of the House of Usher, although uncredited, is inspired by the opera fragment La chute de la maison Usher by Claude Debussy which was composed between 1908 and 1917. The Fall of the House of Usher is an instrumental suite which runs 16 minutes plus and takes up most of Side 2 of the recording.

Critical reaction to the album was mixed; for example, Rolling Stone’s Billy Altman concluded that it did not completely accurately reproduce Poe’s tension and macabre fear, ending by claiming that “devotees of Gothic literature will have to wait for someone with more of the macabre in their blood for a truer musical reading of Poe’s often terrifying works”.

Nevertheless in July 2010, the album was named as one of Classic Rock magazine’s “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock”.

In 1987, Parsons completely remixed the album, including additional guitar passages and narration (by Orson Welles) as well as updating the production style to include heavy reverb and the gated reverb snare drum sound, which was popular in the 1980s. The CD notes that Welles never met Parsons or Eric Woolfson, but sent a tape to them of the performance shortly after the album was manufactured in 1976.

The first passage narrated by Welles on the 1987 remix (which comes before the first track, A Dream Within a Dream) is sourced from an obscure nonfiction piece by Poe – No XVI of his Marginalia (from 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material Marginalia.) The second passage Welles reads (which comes before The Fall of the House of Usher (Prelude), seems to be a partial paraphrase or composite from nonfiction by Poe, chiefly from a collection of poems titled Poems of Youth by Poe (contained in Introduction to Poems – 1831 in a section titled “Letter to Mr. B———–“; the “Shadows of shadows passing” part of the quote comes from the Marginalia.

A Significant Effect

Single cover designed by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

Change,
Everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights, battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead

Best,
You’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And you use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

Change,
Everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come

Your hard times are ahead

Best,
You’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And you use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

Don’t,
Let yourself down
Don’t let yourself go
Your last chance has arrived

Best,
You’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And you use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

 
 

Butterflies and Hurricanes is a song by English alternative rock band Muse from their third studio album, Absolution (2003), and was the last single released from the album. It was one of two songs recorded with a studio orchestra during the initial stages of production. The song is also notable for its Rachmaninoff-esque piano interlude.

The title and theme were mainly inspired by the butterfly effect of chaos theory. The theory describes how even the smallest of changes in present conditions, like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, can cause a chain reaction and have a significant effect in the future, like a hurricane.

Matthew Bellamy declared about the song: “It’s about hope, about trying to find the strength to get through any given situation. I was trying to find a classical type of piano style that would be heavy and work with bass and drums. It had that sort of mechanical paradiddle thing all the way through, and then it breaks down into this kind of romantic, flowing weird bit in the middle”.

 
 

To watch the music video please check out The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

The Sensitive Dependency on Initial Conditions

“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.”

M. C. Escher

 
 

Photo by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations equating to the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events first appears in A Sound of Thunder, a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel.

In 1963 Lorenz published a theoretical study of this effect in a well-known paper called Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. Elsewhere he said that “One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.” Following suggestions from colleagues, in later speeches and papers Lorenz used the more poetic butterfly. According to Lorenz, when he failed to provide a title for a talk he was to present at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972, Philip Merilees concocted Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? as a title. Although a butterfly flapping its wings has remained constant in the expression of this concept, the location of the butterfly, the consequences, and the location of the consequences have varied widely. The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. Note that the butterfly does not power or directly create the tornado. The Butterfly effect does not convey the notion – as is often misconstrued – that the flap of the butterfly’s wings causes the tornado. The flap of the wings is a part of the initial conditions; one set of conditions leads to a tornado while the other set of conditions doesn’t. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events (compare: domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different – it’s possible that the set of conditions without the butterfly flapping its wings is the set that leads to a tornado. The butterfly effect is most familiar in terms of weather; it can easily be demonstrated in standard weather prediction models, for example.

Raise a Hare

Bat for Lashes, What’s a Girl to Do (2007) music video

 
 

Robbie Williams’ single cover artwork

 
 

You Know Me (2009) music video directed by Phil and Olly (a.k.a. Diamond Dogs).

 
 

Poster (based on David Bowie’s Aladdine Sane) for Foo Fighters The Joint tour, 2008 by Jermaine Rogers

 
 

Beck Hansen

 
 

This is not for an Easter postcard. Sea Change (2002) promotional photo by Autumn de Wilde

 
 

From Cool World (Ralph Bakshi, 1992) Original Music Soundtrack

 
 

(2003)

 
 

Artwork by Storm Thorgerson (2011)

 
 

Music from The Rabbit-Proof Fence (Philip Noyce, 2002). It was the first release of new music by Peter Gabriel since OVO(2000), also a soundtrack.

Peter Gabriel: From Genesis to Revelation

I’m posting various photo portraits, out of chronological order, depicting Peter Gabriel’s trajectory during and after his collaboration with Genesis. Whether wearing “civilian clothes,” costumes and make-up drawn from nature (wolf, flower, bat), comics (The Hulk) or those which came from an intergalactic fantasy, professionally Peter Gabriel was born this way.

 
 

In the beginning

 
 

Photo-shoot by Mick Rock, 1973

 
 

First appearance of Gabriel ‘in costume’. It was the dress-wearing, fox-headed entity immortalized on the cover of Foxtrot. The performance was a success, and it encouraged Gabriel to continue wearing creative costumes while singing

 
 

Watcher of the Skies is the first track on Genesis’ 1972 album Foxtrot. The title is borrowed from John Keats’ 1817 poem On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. During performances, Peter Gabriel wore bat wings on the side of his head, glowing UV make-up around his eyes, and a multicolored cape.

 
 

Costume Britannia for The Moonlit Knight (1974) a song from the album Selling England by the Pound.

 
 

Like a flower

 
 

Magog, worn for Supper’s Ready, from the album Foxtrot

 
 

The Old Man

 
 

The Slipperman

 
 

Rael, the protagonist of the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)

 
 

Still of Shock the Monkey (Dean Karr, 1982) music video

 
 

In company of Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Cindy Lauper, and Rosanna Arquette

 
 

Storm Thorgerson designing Peter Gabriel’s third solo album, commonly known as Melt

 
 

So (1986). Sleeve design by Peter Saville

 
 

Soundtrack album of The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

 
 

Us (1992)

 
 

Ovo (2000)

 
 

Scratch my back (2010).

 
 

New Blood (2011)