Wear your art on your sleeve…

June 22, 2007

In the past I’ve gotten myself into trouble with a small portion of the online music communities when I’ve mentioned my love of CD packaging. Designing a nice sleeve and making a CD release into a desirable product is of course a terrible thing to do that places the label owner on a par with McDonalds, but to hell with it, I’ll risk incurring the wrath of one or two people and share with you my love of Crouton Music’s releases.

Crouton release music in all shapes and sizes, mostly CDs but also the occasional piece of vinyl. My favourite of their designs (and one of my favourite pieces of packaging of all time) encased Keith Berry’s lovely album The Ear that was sold to a Fish and consisted of a small brown Kraft box, the lid adorned with a simple photo of a cup of tea, and the inside of the box filled with fantastically fragrant Indian Blue Smalley leaves. To this day one of the best looking, but by far the best smelling CDs I own.

I owe a big thank you to Jon Mueller, Mr Crouton himself for sending a couple of his recent releases today. One, the Alessandro Bosetti disc Her Name is wrapped up in a nice little cardboard sleeve adorned by one simple photo, very elegantly done, but the real gem is the packaging for Mueller’s new duo release with Tim Caitlin called Plates and Wires.
I like Jon’s music quite a lot, and invariably snap up his releases, his simple, focussed approach to percussion is very much to my taste, leaning more towards vibrating surfaces and elongated sounds rather than any more traditional style of playing. I have only played the disc with Caitlin (who is an Australian guitarist with a similar musical approach to Mueller) the once so far and enjoyed it a great deal, brooding, dark studies in vibrating strings and drums and the mysterious effect these sounds have on each other. More listening is required and will be undertaken with pleasure, but a real joy for me is the packaging the disc came in.

The disc can be found hidden behind a piece of card mounted to the back of a large ten inch square piece of board, and on the front, a large print of the image shown above, a painting by the Milwaukee artist Thomas Kovachich. The press release reads as follows: “ Kovacich’s practice of dragging paint with devices over large planks of disused furniture creates a visual cohesion with the layers of milky and gritty sounds heard within the recording.”

The image does indeed work very nicely with the music, really pulling together the whole package as a quite beautiful object that I feel no shame in pronouncing my admiration for. Apparently the first 25 copies purchased from Crouton also include an additional Kovacich print. No idea if any of these are left but I imagine they are worth snapping up.
Aside from the sheer beauty of the object itself, the sheer level of care and attention that has gone into handmaking these releases just underlines the love for the music and the wish to present it as nicely as possible…
Great work…. buy it here!.

Comments (2)

  • Otis

    June 22, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I live close enough to Thurson Moore and Byron Coley (that is, too close) to have acquired collector-scum-aphobia, so I prefer the few things I do buy to not look appalling. Cathnor’s packaging is one of the reasons I just placed an order. Now this Crouton cover is seducing me.

  • Richard Pinnell

    June 22, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    hi Otis and yeah thanks fo rthe order.

    Of course packaging shouldn’t be the first reason you buy a piece of music, the music itself is of course by mile sthe main reason, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been won over on a few borderline cases in the past by things that look nice.

    I have also in the past bought CDs (or more commonly 12″ vinyl in the past) purely for the packaging when I’ve not been remotely interested in the music. This however is because of my love of design and is a separate issue altogether. I have also in the past bought magazines on subjects I don’t care about and even a box of matches once when I don’t smoke, simply as the design of the object struck me.

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