It’s that time again, when we look back at all the amazing artwork put out by record labels in 2017. Equally as important as the music, is the sleeve that the artist chooses to encase their audio production in, adding a compelling component to the story of their work.
Here are our picks of the labels that we think put out some truly beautiful cover art this year just past.
Nuno Dos Santos’ Something Happening Somewhere imprint is very close to our hearts. Having hosted the label’s debut North American showcase back in March 2017 with Nuno, Love Over Entropy and Baikal, we are also obsessed with the beautiful artwork they put out on their records. Keeping it in the family, the limited edition Trigonometry of Love Remixes cover is the work of none other than Nuno’s father Miguel Santos in collaboration with KAPITAAL. Each piece is uniquely made and hand-stamped.
Sasha’s Last Night On Earth resident artist Vicky Broddle illustrations are truly beautiful. Each piece seems to feature streetscape illustrations with splashes of color in a dreamlike state. We are loving the one she did for John Monkman’s Make Noize from November 2017 depicting a stilt walker playing hopscotch.
Not surprisingly, Adam Beyer’s dark techno label Drumcode showcases some very cool artwork. Working almost exclusively with Swedish psychedelic visual artist Staffan Larsson, recent Drumcode release covers have centered around deep space with themes of sacred geometry with smatterings of color. We are loving the cover for Ilario Alicante’s Figures & Echoes but truth be told we love every design this guy comes up with.
DJ Tennis’ Life and Death label cover art is simply stunning. L&D resident artist Kero has been making exceptional artwork for years. In 2017 the one that we liked the most was artwork for Marvin & Guy’s Superior Junction EP released back in June. The beautiful visual shows a flying train orbiting a planet in outer space against a green backdrop with the signature Life and Death birdie in the right hand corner. This is definitely one of our favorites.
The vinyl obsessed Swedish label from Gothenburg knows the importance of a stunning sleeve. One of our favorite pieces is cover art for Bird Ov Paradise’s Olika Ljud EP. The beautiful and trippy visual is David Sabel's (aka Birds ov Paradise) work with his old phone and glitch on Instagram. This is a perfect example of how 'happy accidents' during creative work can make a difference. The video about how David made this and some other very interesting photos can be seen here.
Nina Kraviz’s label Trip like her, had an excellent 2017. For Kraviz, the artwork has and always will be a core component to the story for each release on her label. Nina herself dreams up each releases scenario, and then it is resident visual artist Tombo’s job to put his creative talents to work and come up with his own unique visualisation for the adorning artwork sleeve. One of our favorite Tombo/Kraviz creations is off of PTU’s A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day featuring two heads attached to an octopus like brain.
2017 was the year that the three year old Melbourne label made a comeback after a two year hiatus with co-label founder Tornado Wallace’s exceptional percussion heavy release EP For Animals Dancing. The four track EP features some great music, but the record sleeve is also an impeccable work of art by Felix Pilling.
Entering our picks of label artwork for the second year running, Marc Poppke’s Crossfrontier Audio never fails to disappoint with their stunning label designs. Resident artist Stella Gelesh’s endless creativity and beautiful dreamlike visuals continues to wow us with every single design release she creates.
Keeping things appropriately animalistic, Claude Von Stroke aka Barclay Crenshaw values the artwork for his label Dirtybird’s releases as much as the music. Working with a rotating group of visual artists, the Dirtybird cover art is always unique, colorful and features a plethora of fauna. In 2017 the west coast label worked frequently with Spanish artist Dulk who created these gorgeous designs like the one pictured below. This is their second year running in our favorite picks and if they keep this up we will no doubt will be including them in 2018.
Returning once again to our top label artwork of the year, Watergate Records’ cover art for Polish duo Catz ‘N Dogz’s club mix is really beautiful. Depicting two endangered swordfishes in various shades of blue and aqua against a black background, the visual is exceptionally dramatic and one we can’t get enough of. We are big fans of graphic artist Frank Hohne’s work and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
The underground label leading the way for Australia’s homegrown house and techno scene Chameleon Recordings likes to mix things up, choosing to work with a new visual artist every ten releases. Most recently graphic designer Matthias Rapp has been keeping things looking good over at Chameleon with his simple yet beautiful geometric designs. Their main release schedule over the years can be attributed to the talented photographer David Lazar and next up they are excited to be collaborating with another amazing photographer, Robbie Byrne.