The second album by British new wave band XTC did not feature any images. Instead, a written essay about how buyers are attracted by album covers to buy records was used.
The paragraph, which begins with: “This is a record cover.” occupies the whole 12″x12″ of Go2 (1978) in a way that was somewhat similar to the cover of Lucy Lippard’s seminal work Six Years. The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, a book published only five years earlier. Both covers are conceptual observations about their respective roles in the album and the book and provide information on their content.
Music albums are artworks whose material and immaterial natures are strictly intertwined: the object with its own design, the supporting format (physical or otherwise) and the content. Despite the floridity of music production and critical literature, apart from regular publications on classic or best record covers, little or no serious study seems to be done on the artistic value of album covers, their historicization, their possible classification in a typological manner, or even on the research and peculiarities of the very designers (one of whom we already featured on this site).
The “reduction” of an album cover to its essential textual information is a practice found in hundreds of album covers. This fascinating category is the subject of a new spin-off Instagram account from Socks, which we titled like this very post. Here it is: this.is.a.record.cover.
Following is a selection from the first entries.
Thanks, Maxime Guitton, for your suggestions!