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Vessels, The Great Distraction

Art Direction · Campaign · Music · Print

We were asked by Vessels to create the album artwork for their new album The Great Distraction.

What started as a record sleeve design brief, turned into a large scale installation, creating an album cover made entirely from lasers that you could walk around.

This latest release from the live techno outfit features a host of guest, including The Flaming Lip’s Wayne Coyne, John Grant, Vincent Neff of Django Django fame; and Katie Harkin.

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The artwork for the campaign was created from a laser sculpture, installed in The Hepworth’s Calder space back in January 2017. 

Reflecting Vessels’ live approach to techno, we looked to blur the lines between the computer-synthesised and the real. The visuals combine the hard crisp, rhythmical lines of a digital work with the imperfections of an analogue, physical medium. 

Laser’s crisp, graphical properties, allowed us to suspend intricate patterns in thin air. But they were also chosen to reflect the music in another way. Lasers share the same spaces in our collective imagination as the analogue synths heavily used by the band: Both were developed in the early 60’s, both will always be wrapped up in the folklore of sci-fi, both have been ever-present on the club scene and both retain their connotations with ‘the future’, despite having well over half a century of history each. 

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Alongside the cover for The Great Distraction, we used the installation to create the artwork for the singles from the album (shown left), with other imagery left up our sleeves for any remix projects.

The work as a whole was the result of following through the most appropriate, exciting concept for the band and their music – but in doing so took us down a path that led well away from our original training as ‘graphic designers’. From working out the challenges of wiring large scale 12-vault circuits and learning about voltage drops the hard way; to creating stringent health and safety briefings (rock n roll); to sweet-talking two fire engines full of grumpy fire fighters arriving to a haze-filled Hepworth thinking we’d burned the place down (we hadn’t) – this brief was a bit of a ride.

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Having created the installation, we then returned to shoot the band’s press shots, using a combination of lasers (1 & 4) and projections of the album artwork (2 & 3) to ensure a consistent look and feel across the album campaign as a whole.

The first image on the left is shot using the light from the lasers alone. Not the easiest thing to do, and one of the many challenges pulled off brilliantly by our long-suffering collaborator and photographer on the project David Lindsay – without whom all this wouldn’t have happened (…and to whom we now owe favours to until the end of time. Love you Dave.)

The Great Distraction is available to pre-order on Bandcamp now.