great album covers of our time - no 1

years ago i was given a whole lot of stockhausen on vinyl - hymnen, carre, telemusik, stimmung, mixtur - all the hits. in fact there was even a double album called stockhausen's greatest hits. really. but kurzwellen became one of my faves, much to my mum's annoyance.

the instruments are (from the composer's notes) piano, electronium, large tam-tam with microphone, viola with contact microphone, 2 filters with 4 faders, 4 short-wave receivers. and it's a sort of directed improvisation. and it's strong stuff. as is the cover.

by most standards this probably wouldn't qualify as music. as you might expect, it's atonal, peppered with bangs, bleeps, squeals, static and scrapes. and it was a double album. certainly my mum found it utterly repellent and i think, genuinely upsetting that anyone would want to listen to it. i probably slightly enjoyed this reaction.

i remember showing her the cover, in the hope that the picture might convince her that these were serious musicians. they wore suits and looked as though they had washed recently. and they were on deutsche grammophon too. that was a label for proper music, wasn't it?. i think she was actually slightly horrified that karlheinz and chums looked like bank employees rather than the usual bearded, longhaired creepy types to be found lurking on the album covers that usually littered my room.

i loved that cover, because it represented some other world - where people wearing suits and who probably didn't take that many drugs made weird noises for a living. it exuded seriousness - i got the feeling that these guys had devoted their lives to making this alien, harsh, unforgiving music. their world was as foreign and exotic to me as the worlds of haight-ashbury in 1967 or new york in 1977 or chicago in the thirties. and it still is.


Eleventhvolume said...

Oi - are you setting up in competition with Hard Format ;-) I have to agree with you - that's a great album cover. There's also something about the wonderful/ridiculous DG plaque suspended over the chaps seated on the steps - is it hovering over them like a strange space ship or getting read to fall on and crush them?

Peter said...

tee hee. yes, they're a right bunch of lads aren't they. i think the vinyl cover was slightly different - the DG placque not so prominent. wish i could remember what was on the rest of it...

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