votw ii.27: Math Class Doodling

My soul to keep the night I dread!

Happy Beijing, everybody! The Summer Olympics are here! Get ready ’cause these sports are about to get heavy — I just settled on my lawsuit, flunked you, bevy! Go U.S.A.!

Whut it dew, cuz? I’m here, living life like nobody’s business. It really shouldn’t be anyone’s business, of course, but the talk always bubbles, always bounces off walls.

So what gimmicky awesome funness do I have planned for us this week? I was gonna pick whatever topic anyone suggested to me, but since the debacle of last week’s Alfredeus Reader Mail (my loan sharks got a hold of it), I have been reduced to my own devices. Sadly, those only include a dead DSL modem and three standard-def televisions. (None of those can help us now — unless, of course, you want me to start watching self-improvement fashion shows on basic cable. Like catty crack!)

♪♫ We just got a letter! We just got a letter! We just got a letter! I wonder who it’s from? ♪♫

Darlene’s kids write, “Dear TheMunDial, can you please talk my mom into buying me an Australian frilled lizard?”

Thanks for the post, younglings! But the truth is, those things can be very dangerous. Why, they remind me of the venom-spitting dinosaur that attacked Seinfeld‘s Newman in Jurassic Park! You know, the one whose neck flaps open up like a prehistoric umbrella of raw, extinct, Steven Spielberg power. Of course you can have one!

(And I’m not a closet Blue’s Clues fan — I would watch it with my brother when he was but a wee tyke. Nick Jr’s programming was boss back then. You had Little Bear, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Rupert Bear, Gullah Gullah Island, Franklin, Allegra’s Window, and all of those other psychedelic “kids” shows. Our Handy Dandy Notebook was the Rubik’s Cube of the era. I hate Joe — Steve for President! Ah, those were the days. My brother is gonna be 17 soon.)

In this edition, I have decided to make a small ode to one of popular culture’s last remaining openly distributed pieces of static artwork: the album cover. In an era when people only remember Da Vinci as spreader of blasphemous lies and Andy Warhol as the bastard grandfather of Woody Allen and Andy Dick, album covers have come to mean more* in the daily lives of denizens of the world than the mauled face depicted by Picasso.

*”This medium will soon die out in the era of online piracy,” spat the Emperor.

So now I’m just gonna revel in the nuances of album covers by some of my favorite artists. (Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Zeppelin.) Let the Google Image Search commence!

I always loved the cover for a-ha’s 2003 live album, How Can I Sleep With Your Voice In My Head. There’s something eerie and eccentric about the zombie seal suspended in animation. Imported from somewhere like the Himalayas, this live best-of two-for-one album (with poster!) was the first a-ha joint I ever purchased. Favorite live tracks: “The Sun Always Shines On TV,” “Take On Me,” “Did Anyone Approach You?,” “The Living Daylights.” Hopeless…it’s not hopeless…

A New Wave concept album? Surely, you jest. Alas, that’s what the former members of The Human League funked out as Heaven 17, those me-toos who never really got their shot in the limelight. Still, Penthouse and Pavement is a veritable diatribe against the social norms of getting up and making money wearing a tie, blasting its way through mundane grave-lives and political bigotry. It’s like the early ’80s musical of Mad Men cynicism. In some respects, it’s a lot like Christian Bale’s American Psycho (just look at the album cover) — except the band never say they’re going to slaughter Reagan. They just don’t like him a whole lot. Favorite tracks: “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” “Penthouse And Pavement,” “Let’s All Make A Bomb,” “The Height Of The Fighting,” “Song With No Name,” and “We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time.”  Although the war has just begun, ignore the sirens, let’s have fun: put on your best, go out in style. Although our future’s looking black, we’ll go downtown and join the pack — let’s celebrate and vaporize…

Bar-none, Ladytron’s Witching Hour is the best statement of New Wave for the 2000s. Droning, hypnotic, and taboo, it firmly establishes the ladies-fronted ensemble as the ones to look to for rebel-electronica done super-cool. Though not as intricate as their followup cover, this one is attractive in that it clearly exhibits who wears the pants in the band. (Also, doesn’t the flower pattern remind you of a-ha’s Analogue?) Yeah, a couple of male hobos tend to wires in the background, but this ebullient duo are the ones who put the tron in Ladytron. What? Yes, they were crazysexycool at their concert — Topher prevented me from bum-rushing the stage. Blasted c-blocker. -_- Favorite tracks: “Destroy Everything You Touch,” “International Dateline,” and “Soft Power.” We’re not sleeping at the wheel, the wheel is turning the machine that kills — for us…

In 1984, Depeche Mode moved away from their socialist imagery of previous albums (what is up with Speak & Spell‘s birthing cuckoo?) to give us an intriguing juxtaposition of newlyweds against the cold steel of machinery. I guess that’s the overall Depeche M.O.: soulful yearning against clanks, tanks, and bleeps. The two lovers (Martin Gore isn’t on the left, f your i) have I found to be engagingly romantic. Favorite tracks: “Somebody ” and “Blasphemous Rumours” (even if I haven’t heard it in a long, long time for fear of divine reprisal — again). Can we forget about “People Are People” now? I want somebody to share, share the rest of my life, share my innermost thoughts, know my intimate details…

It’s pretty well-known that The Smiths’ second-to-last album, ’86’s The Queen Is Dead, is their magnum opus. Nothing says dopey moping quite like Morrissey on “There Is A Light That Never Goes,” my personal epitaph. The album cover, which is more vampire slumber than French actor from the 1960s, reflects the strung-out wordplay and Johnny Marr’s guitar’s last claim to fame. Queens never had a chance. Favorite tracks: “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side,” “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.” And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die…

Duran Duran’s second album cover couldn’t help but become a cliche of the ’80s. Everything about it screams yuppie caviar, yacht captain’s hat, and champagne trickling down models’ bikinis. Everyone must’ve had a painting resembling Ms. Rio on their walls. It was inevitable. And don’t you dare think I mention the LP that spawned “Hungry Like The Wolf” just because of its pop-culture status — by and large, many of Duran’s album covers were atrocious. What the hell’s going on in this one? Favorite tracks: “My Own Way,” “Lonely In Your Nightmare,” “Save A Prayer,” “The Chauffeur” (maybe the image of the topless model grinding up against a ghost in a parking garage clinches the surreal ambiance for me). And the droning engine throbs in time with your beating heart…

a-ha had been wayward for the better part of a decade, but they finally crash-landed onto our Earth, returning only with their creative heads, leaving their fuselage baggage of the past in the great death of space. 2OOO was a new beginning for us all — a world torn by war, a dream burst by happenstance. I am only but a minor earth flying silently through major sky. Favorite tracks: All of them? “Least” favorite track: “The Company Man.” Yes, we all fall down, don’t make a sound as we hit the ground…

Many believe that The Cure’s Disintegration album was the best anything to come out of the 1980s. Tracks like the eponymous number make a grand case for this 1989 album. This was the LP that everything from Seventeen Seconds to Pornography, from The Head On the Door to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me were all leading up to. Just as beguiling is the cover, with the happily drowning visage of Robert Smith meets Bride of Frankenstein suffocating in a dark void inhabited by black embers and nightmarish foliage, all in the name of hourglass love. Favorite tracks: “Pictures Of You,” “Lovesong,” “Fascination Street,” “Lullaby.” Whatever words I say, I will always love you…

New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies is my favorite NO album. It exudes everything that was so right about Hooky’s powerful bass and Barney’s dead deliverance. Who knows what the dead flowers could mean? A gift that went wrong — a lover’s disappointment? Perhaps a salute to fallen Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis? Regardless, it belonged to the people of France, and so it went that the British took it back. Favorite tracks: “Age Of Consent” and “Your Silent Face.” You’re not the kind that needs to tell me about the birds and the bees…

The loudspeakers symbol is an elegant gesture of mass consumption. Symbolically red, it spreads the propaganda of Depeche Mode’s heresy, forbidden but alluring. This is the album that finally catapulted them as the most successful band to survive the crash of New Wave, heralding a domination of the synthtastic genre that would forever go unquestioned. Music for the masses, and nothing but. Favorite tracks: “Never Let Me Down Again,” “The Things You Said,” “Strangelove,” “Little 15,” “Behind The Wheel,” and “I Want You Now.” She knows your mind is not yet in league with the rest of the world and its little intrigues…

In the past, I have said that, pound for pound, Tears For Fears’ debut album could be the best standalone record of the entire 1980s. Lofty claims, no? By 1983, the New Romantics had taken the genre into the circus, some with more clown makeup than juggling prowess. Tears For Fears mixed the cold synthesizer with the bleakness of childhood, the rolling synth bops with despair only a child with his head in his hands could have nightmares about. Tears for fears. The simple truth is that the duo of Roland and Curt used the medium to vent about their failed upbringing, which in turn gave us an album of immeasurable dimensions. Yeah, they would claim their biggest successes with Songs From The Big Chair (“Shout,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”), but those are bombastic Top 40 meteorites compared to the pained depth found in The Hurting. Favorite tracks: “The Hurting,” “Mad World,” “Pale Shelter,” “Suffer The Children,” “Watch Me Bleed,” and “Change.” The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had…

The first four Echo & The Bunnymen albums tell the tale of the elusive Bunnygod, Echo. It is up to the Bunnymen to search for the deity in the shrubbery of dour Post-Punk landscapes — the forest, the beach, the arctic, and finally, the sea caverns. They do not find Echo in Ocean Rain, but they do find what the journey meant for them, and what it meant to us. Their second album cover, for 1981’s Heaven Up Here (what a title), is achingly gorgeous. Simply told, it is the face of shadows against nature. Careful eyes will spot this image in another realm of the Alfredeus continuum…Favorite Tracks: “Show Of Strength,” “With A Hip,” and “Heaven Up Here.” Groovy, groovy people, we’re all…

Savoy’s debut album is a daring piece of art, especially when you consider the suggestive Mary Is Coming moniker. Tawdry to a climax, the elegance of a lady in waiting is one of anticipation frozen in blue seduction. Not only that, but look at where her toes are pointing — if Mary doesn’t get hers now, the city will be her tongue’s oyster. For the time being, however, she has a feel for her velvety skin. Hey, maybe a-ha’s dissolution wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Favorite track: “Velvet.” Her touch would be tender, her lips would be warm — but when we’re together, I’m always alone…

What’s going on with The Human League’s first album cover? Well, if we are to believe “Being Boiled,” “just because you call her ‘mother’ doesn’t mean that she’s your better.” This image is what is meant by “blind revenge on a blameless victim.” You can have your “Don’t You Want Me” — I’ll stick with the nihilistic gloom and doom of Reproduction. Favorite Tracks: “Almost Medieval” and “Empire State Human.” Outside the office hangs the man on the gibbet…

Organisation has got to be one of the most depressing albums out there. Sure, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were supposedly influenced by Joy Division and all that noise in this brief epoch, but the mere fact that one expects to encounter the tragically poppy “Enola Gay” throughout the album but instead gets a sea of melancholia is enough for a man to don guyliner. Perhaps this overcast cover should have been something of an indication. Somebody, please get me Architecture & Morality! Favorite track: “Enola Gay,” that layered melody blown to pieces by a diatribe against the bombing of Hiroshima. Enola Gay, is mother proud of Little Boy today? This kiss you give, it’s never, ever gonna fade away…

Morten’s looking a bit manorexic, isn’t he? No worries: he’s got his magic typewriter en tow. Wild Seed is an album about Morten looking at whorish flowers, I think, and realizing just how pretty they are. Someone must think he’s a threat, however, since they tried to shatter the image, as well as put emergency tape around our misjudged Cheekbonez. Favorite tracks: “A Kind Of Christmas Card” and “Spanish Steps.” Just think of the girl I used to be — you were my age once, mama, 23! I can still hear some of the songs you used to play from that summer of love in ’68 — seems it’s turned into a winter of hate…

I can’t help myself: the Summer of Love was in ’67.

The Psychedelic Furs’ self-titled debut album was one of pure Post-Punk energy, straddling the line between discordant Punk and groovy Bunnymen vibes sans the heavy drinking. Richard Butler’s smokey, tone deaf voice shines like a crumpled paper stuck in a creaking door (?), which is just perfect for the bravado of the overlooked Furs. The album cover is almost self-congratulatory, veering a little too close to next big thing category (easily trouncing Duran Duran with its debut image) — too bad they never got to imitate Christ in earnest. Damn U2. Favorite tracks: “Sister Europe,” “We Love You,” “Imitation Of Christ.” Jesus is a woman, too, he looks like all of me and you…

It’s OK Computer by The Radio Heads. Get over yourself. Favorite track: “Fitter Happier.” Calm, fitter, healthier and more productive, like a pig in a cage on antibiotics…

Magne F’s Past Perfect Future Tense is something out of the DSM IV, whatever that is. I can just imagine a poor fool inhabited by the ghost of an alien etching all of the creepy vibes on the floor. Very Smallville. Favorite track: “Kryptonite” and “Past Perfect Future Tense.” Go easy on the Kryptonite, easy on the black and white. Just try to be civilized — no one wants to compromise. If you don’t like the way it sounds, well, bite me…

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. It practically invented Post-Punk and Goth all at once. No more tearing down the establishment like the Punk revolution — now it was time to tear yourself down. Watch 24 Hour Party People and Control. Write to me about it sometime. The album cover invokes an ephemeral instant — Ian Curtis would only be around long enough to start the ripples of a black infinity. Favorite track: “She’s Lost Control.” And she screamed out, kicking on her side and said, “I’ve lost control again,” and seized up on the floor — I thought she’d die…

“I’ve made myself so sick — I wish I’d stayed asleep today.” Words we can all live by. Maybe I just like napping too much…Regardless, The Head On The Door is a wonderland of downtrodden pop, wading through murky rainbows and bright swamps. The phrase itself holds so much promise, so much longing. After all, the head on the door was a dream. The cover of the album illustrates the clapping from “Close To Me” (the first Cure track I loved, and one of my favorite music videos, like, evar), as well as the vanishing incorporeal phoenix slipping through reality. Favorite tracks: “Inbetween Days,” “Kyoto Song,” and “Close To Me.” Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die…

I dream pictures of houses burning, and what I get are the screams from Scoundrel Days. Delivering some of a-ha’s most accomplished pieces (the three intro numbers alone are enough to make any competing composer give up for twenty years), their second LP is one of breathless perfection. With the mysteries of scoundrel’d days come the album cover, which forever encapsulates the trio in a sea outside of time. Favorite tracks: All of them! “Least” favorite track: “Cry Wolf.” You can start but you cannot stop — you give in, but you can’t give up — you can tell all your desperate jokes to a world that puts your love on hold…

Depeche Mode’s Violator is perhaps the greatest single compliment of the New Wave genre: it not only set the gold standard for past and future, it also managed to do it in 1990. Truly, the last memory burn of the Synthpop genre before it was driven underground by the decade of Beavis and Butt-head. No better way to end an era than with a crowning masterpiece. Favorite tracks: All. “Least” favorite track: “Personal Jesus.” There is a sound in the calm: someone is coming to harm. I press my hands to my ears — it’s easier here just to forget fear. And when I squinted, the world seemed rose-tinted — angels appeared to descend. To my surprise, with half-closed eyes, things looked even better than when they were opened…

Their greatest statement, Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain would prove to be the denouement of their bunnysearch. Yeah, they would go on to make many a new album (with a new singer at one point, blasphemy!), but the essential Bunnymen saga is only traceable in their first four volumes. After that, they sold out, disbanded, and one of them even died, unfortunately. Then there was the Electrafixion debacle. Whatever. Ocean Rain is the aria of sorrow to the sirens — hopeless, we know, but the cries of the human spirit is there, lingering beyond Death. The album cover concludes the search for Echo, as their manager put it (biographies purchased through Amazon, FTW!), with Ian McCulloch not finding our Bunnygod, but instead finding himself — Narcissus in Hades. Favorite tracks: “Nocturnal Me,” “The Killing Moon,” “Seven Seas,” and “Ocean Rain.” All at sea again, and now my hurricanes have brought down this ocean rain to bathe me again. My ship’s a-sail, can you hear its tender frame screaming from beneath the waves? Screaming from beneath the waves…All hands on deck at dawn, sailing to sadder shores — your port in my heavy storms — harbours the blackest thoughts…..

And there you have it, many a laborious hour spent trying not to visit the pictures of many a skanky girl on MySpace to convey the significance of album covers for bands who, by every right, should have their HMOs get them a walking stick. I jest. Who knows, maybe I spend too much time poring over the minutiae of music that was never intended for me. Seriously, Kanye deserves all of my munny.

So post a comment (be it here or on Cold As Stone) detailing what some of your favorite album covers are. I know you won’t, but I’m doing the douchebag courteous thing and putting it out there.

Serendipitously, I will feature Savoy’s “Isotope” this week. Why is it serendipitous? Because I wanted to embed “Empty Of Feeling,” but since it isn’t available on YouTube, this danged WordPress won’t let me do nuffin’ with MySpaceTV. Seriously, why is it serendipitous? Stop using that word…”Isotope” features works of art as old as time itself for the first minute or so of the video, which coincides perfectly with this blog. I think.

Sadly, the song does not hail from the Savoy album featured here. Still, the video’s very pretty to look at. I’m not entirely sure what Paul Waaktaar is singing about, but believe you me, it’s probably an allegory of the Periodic Table of Elements.

So after y’all check this shnooka out, why not lend me a hand by adding “Empty Of Feeling” to YouTube? Thanks.

…In a blog devoted to pieces of art associated with pop musicians, you would think I would make at least some sort of reference to Magne Furuholmen’s accomplishments in the art community. After all, he gave Oscar winner Nobel Prize winner Earth-winner Al Gore a deck of cards. That’s my time! “Isotope”!

~ by Alfredeus on August 8, 2008.

5 Responses to “votw ii.27: Math Class Doodling”

  1. I’m all about it [IMG]http://img262.imageshack.us/img262/9581/waltz19pq.jpg[/IMG]

  2. i can’t believe you overlooked pink floyd and led zeppelin. how dare you. the floyd’s wish you were here album cover would put heaven 17 to shame.
    anywho, i forgot what i was going to ramble on about. ah well.

  3. HELLO !!!!!!!!

  4. HELLO !

  5. YOU HAVE A LOT TO SAY THAT’S FOR SURE!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: