An aquifer of frankincense and myrrh
Sometime last year, an old friend asked me to do an album cover for him. He’d been working on a set of songs for a while, and was looking to put it all together and do a proper release, inasmuch as (truly) independent musicians have those these days. At the time, I was overworked and understimulated and couldn’t manage to find the time, effort, or creativity to do a decent job of it.
We got in touch again after the first of the year, around when I quit my job. I had some free time coming up and decided to take on the project. Most of my early commercial creative work in the ‘00s was for my and my friends’ bands in our local music scene, so I’m always thrilled to get more music projects after working in tech for so long.
This friend of mine is big into astral projection, and that and his faith and relationship with Christ are very important to him and his music, so he asked me to bring all that into the artwork. I’m not a Christian myself, but I have a great fondness for Christianity’s rich history of symbolism and visual metaphor. It feels like cheating, drawing from this bottomless well of analogical conceptualization which transcends centuries of art movements. Illuminated texts, woodblock prints, cathedral frescoes, VeggieTales—the list goes on. But seeing as it’s a feeling of cheating that keeps me coming back to art and design, I’m okay with sneaking into the teacher’s office to steal the answer sheet.
I won’t rot your teeth you with all the nuggets baked into this cookie, but I will mention that it features seven scripture selections written in seven languages seven times. English, Latin, Greek, and Esperanto were pretty straightforward to write (read: trace), given my native tongue, but it took some learning to figure out how to handle strokes in Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic. More difficult than the writing, though, was finding some of the translations. More difficult than finding translations was finding an Aramaic typeface that was (somewhat) stable in Photoshop. My computer ultimately couldn’t handle a text field with 49 pieces of scripture in seven languages and four typefaces, so I had to send the file over to a friend with a more powerful machine to rasterize the layer for me.
Anyway, my buddy’s kinda done a soft promo launch of this album by posting a few tracks on his Soundcloud account. You’ll notice I’m featured on one of the tracks currently posted—it’s one of two for which he asked me to write and perform poems based on his conceptual prompts. The one live now is an intro to the album, and is the first sonnet I’ve written. Maybe I’ll share it someday. But for now, here’s the album art.