Monday, November 2, 2009
Satan Be Praised
In an unlikely era of digital downloads, the Portland (via Alaska) band Portugal The Man has released their newest collection of music “The Satanic Satanist” with packaging that rivals even the most ambitious 1970’s vintage (vinyl record) album art. Like it’s forefathers from this bygone era “The Satanic Satanist” does more than just sit there looking psychedelic; it moves, it changes, it engages. In total, five separate flaps need to be unfolded before the disc can even be glimpsed. All of these flaps are die cut into wispy cloud shapes and mystical characters in colorful scenes which can be (almost magically) reconfigured into different scenes by changing the way they are folded. Designers in the 70’s utilized a variety of techniques like die cutting to create multi-demensional covers with inserts and elaborate ways of making the would be listener “work” to unsheathe their vinyl. The goal was to give the user something more tangible and engaging than a static image. In this way the auditory perception of the music could become intertwined with both optic and haptic perception. Now, with more and more music junkies getting their fix via the digital vein, it is uncommon to see this level of detail and interactive embellishment in any music packaging design. The logic is that if fewer and fewer people are purchasing hard copies of music (or purchasing music at all) then it is not fiscally sound to invest in expensive packaging design. However, the CD is not dead yet. Even old vinyl has been regaining popularity in the last few years. Especially in the case of vinyl, this is largely due to a nostalgic sort of reverence which has been fostered by the rapid decline of the compact disc format. So, if people are still purchasing CDs, and if a significant number of people, who presumably used to be purchasing CDs, are now purchasing records it is reasonable to infer that these people are motivated by a desire to own something more tangible than a digital file. Therefore, if you are a band that is going to bother to sell your music on CD and/or vinyl, the best way to appeal to this market is to really give them something to experience.