One for the Album

For a year-and-a-half,Delhi-based fusion band,Advaita,worked really hard on their second album.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: March 28, 2012 2:43:43 am

For a year-and-a-half,Delhi-based fusion band,Advaita,worked really hard on their second album. Compositions,recordings and production kept them busy. It was just a month before the official release of The Silent Sea that they suddenly woke up to the idea of album art. In haste,they approached graphic designer Kabir Dev Malik to create the cover and inside pages. “We didn’t give him any brief,only the songs and the lyrics,” says Abhishek Mathur,the band’s electronic guitarist.The artwork had to be a visual song and also a reflection of the album’s theme — grappling with the bigger questions of life while living with its limitations. And what came out after a month was an album inlay that got as many rave reviews as the songs. The picture of a corked glass bottle that embodies the sea,photos of an old TV set,an hourglass with sea water,a vintage pocket watch and fish motifs at various places on the album stood out.

In an era of umpteen song downloads and iTunes,when listeners have little incentive to buy CDs and almost no time to look at the artwork,indie music outfits in the country are trying to turn the tide.

Although album art has existed for decades,but a lull creeped into the scene. However,in the last one year or so,things have started to look up once again. Those in the indie music circuit vouch for the recall value of a band or its sound,based on the cover art or logo. Circus’ debut album From Space stays in memory primarily because of the vague purple orange on a white background that reflects its theme — abrupt endings and disconnect. Same is the case with the kitschy art of Swarathma’s debut album.

Sulk Station,which comprises Rahul Giri and Tanvi Rao,recently released its debut album,Till You Appear,which is all about waiting and yearning. This sentiment is bang on on the album cover — one side of Rao’s face,with focus on her eyes. “The image is very powerful, she is looking for something,waiting,or maybe,is angry,” says Giri. As Swarathma gets ready for their second album,Topiwalleh,they are leaving no stone unturned to make the art even more appealing than their first one. Since Vasu Dixit,the vocalist,is a fine art post-graduate from NID,Ahmedabad,he has designed the album himself. “The inlay is based on two songs — Topiwalleh and Aaj ki taaza fikr. The first one is on politicians while the second one is on sensationalism in media. We did a photo shoot with some topis and have used motifs related to print and electronic media,” he says.

“Cover art of bands such as Pink Floyd and The Beatles is a mirror reflection of their work and the society at that time. This is what indie music in India,too,is moving towards,” adds Dixit.

There is no dearth of artists wiling to work on indie album covers. Delhi-based Archan Nair,29,designed the artwork for Karsh Kale’s latest album Cinema. The multimedia photo of a figure against a red and white water colour background makes one take a second look. Design companies,too,are as eager. Those like Cinnamon Designs are known for designing merchandise and album covers for bands such as Bhayanak Maut and Cyanide. “The indie rock and metal scene is growing faster due to technological advancements. As more albums release,more covers will be there,” says Shashwat Gupta,Business Developer,Cinnamon Designs.

Girish ‘Bobby’ Talwar,co-founder of artist management company,Only Much Louder,agrees. “Till a year or two ago,releasing an album itself was such a huge challenge but now that’s it’s slightly easier,bands are working on album art too. It’s like a collectible for the fans,” he says.

While many complain about the lack of money in the indie music industry,for once,it is this feature that works exactly in the favour of the artistes. “We had no money to do art for our first album,so we decided to do it ourselves. With money,it’s convenient but with no money,the spectrum widens and one gets more creative. That’s why all the brilliant artwork is coming from the indie industry,” concludes Dixit.

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