One band that has utilized album art in many of their records is Explosions In The Sky. I own three of their records, two of which (All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone and The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place) are among the most beautiful and intricate on the shelf. E.I.T.S. is a four piece, American instrumental post-rock band from Texas that uses intricate layers of guitar melodies backed by bold and often sporadic drum beats to create expressive and emotional experiences. They began in 1999 and were heavily influenced by bands such as Mogwai and Dirty Three, two other instrumental bands often placed in the post-rock genre.
One of my favorite albums to pull out and show people as an example of really great album art that could not be replicated by a CD or digital media is All Of a Sudden I Miss Everyone.
This record was released in February of 2007. The art within it was done by Esteban Rey, who is also the band's tour manager. Not only is the image that appears on the cover, alone beautiful and reminiscent of the art of Van Gogh and Manet; it is also replicated on the D side of the record itself through an etching.
The use of this extra space on records is being more and more often used for these types of etchings (and as someone who has been through an undergraduate degree in Printmaking, I find this detail to always be a wonderful surprise).
In terms of the listening experience of this record, it is definitely one of a continuous nature. Each song feels like a part of the whole and the entire record has an ebb and flow that begs not to be disrupted.
There has been speculation that the themes of the song titles and the title of the record has a direct relation to the novel Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. The title is a short summary of the last part of the book, when the main character Holden tells the reader, "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody." There are also major themes in the book of isolation, fear, home, normality, and tragedy. These ideas could be alluded to in song titles such as, It's Natural To Be Afraid, What Do You Go Home To?, and So Long, Lonesome. I am not sure if this is the exact intention of the musicians, but it is an interesting idea and literary relation to ponder.
In this post I have included a digital representation of the album, but if I could I would invite you all over to hear and watch it spinning on my turntable.
*Extra Note: The band is releasing a new record Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, this month and they have gone even further with the album art included. It is another visual creation by Esteban and is tempting me to splurge of the rather high price and add it to my collection....