From vintage-cool and avante-garde to mundane and shocking, album covers have never been more interesting.
When multi-instrumentalist Jose Neil Gomes told me about his upcoming debut EP, Systematic, I expected his album cover to have at least a picture of him, or of any of the two-dozen instruments he plays. There was neither. Instead, the cover features a rather blue and stark picture of two tree trunks and lots of leaves. He explains, “The biggest reference point of system is nature. There is no better systematic entity. Hence the cover.”
Systematic by Jose Neil Gomes
Going by the number of artistes choosing quaint, surreal and unobvious album art themes and cover (read no band profile pictures/artiste mugshots) we can safely say that indie music is currently experiencing its most exciting album art age.
Your Chin’s latest EP, Scatter Nature, also has a curious picture as its cover. “It was a photograph Misha Ghose clicked and I really liked. I don't think we were consciously looking for a symbol for Scatter Nature. It was just something that sort of pointed towards the mood of the EP,” explains singer-producer Raxit Tewari.
Scatter Nature by Your Chin
While Gomes and Tewari chose photographs of things around them as covers, many other artistes are picking pictures from their own photo albums to adorn their records. One of the most memorable ones in recent times has to be Tajdar Junaid’s What Colour Is Your Raindrop, whose covers show a young Tajdar posing for the camera at a road in Calcutta.
What Colour Is Your Raindrop by Tajdar Junaid
Delhi-based band Peter Cat Recording Co’s new album, Climax, too, has a retro-style photograph of a young kid in a typical Indian photo studio.
Climax by Peter Cat Recording Co.
Singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad gave an even more personal touch to his album art. The cover of his last EP, In Tokens & Charms, features a selection of special items. According to Prateek, the memorabilia, which includes a Polaroid camera, a letter, two photographs, a yo-yo and a divider,metaphorically represent each of the songs. “And how these things are parts of my life, little snippets, just like the songs.That and also the fact that these minor, insignificant items, thatI've collected as gifts or bought, they represent an event, or a person, small encounters,” he adds.
In Tokens & Charms by Prateek Kuhad
Illustrations are popular too. Mumbai’s newest most exciting trio, Last Remaining Light’s eponymous albumhas an intriguing image on its cover designed by Bangalore-based artist Paul Thomas. The fantastical setting features a baseless lighthouse with a couple chilling in its highest floor, and a flying car, clouds and mountains.
On the other hand, some artistes prefer a little drama or even shock value. The cover of The Return Of Kalicharan by The Lightyears Explode was a posterized image of a still from Chiranjeevi1985 film, titled Indian Thriller.
The Revenge Of Kalicharan by The Lightyears Explode
How the band decided to use it on their album cover is a funny story, says drummer Aaron Carvalho. “Saurabh(Roy, guitars/vocals) had gone to the producer, Ayan De’s house and he played him this movie. The visuals went with the vibe of the album,” he says. Later, the artwork was designed by Ishan Rathore.