While it might be a truism that one shouldn’t judge a book – or, by extension, an album – by its cover, it’s equally true that the artwork of a creative project not only plays a crucial role in its marketing but also, in the best cases, forms an integral part of that project’s broader aesthetic.
Two forthcoming Deutsche Grammophon releases exemplify just how intimate and intertwined the world of sounds and visuals can be. The first, Hermetism, by esteemed Dutch composer and pianist Joep Beving, is thematically inspired by the ancient spiritual writings of legendary Greek author Hermes Trismegistus and the seven universal laws of nature later compiled in The Kybalion.
Much of the music on Hermetism is shaped by Beving’s personal readings on these ideas. Peaceful and contemplative, minimal and sometimes romantic, it also has plenty of intricate detailing, from the spiraling Last Dance, which works with the principle of rhythm, to the clear Middle Eastern influence of Dervish, and the reflective Nocturnal, which Beving has also described as “his own medicine for the pandemic.”
The artwork for Hermetism
, an almost hieroglyphic-style series of drawings that adorn the main album cover as well as several singles (Nocturnal
, For Mark
and Last Dance
), is as enigmatic and minimal as the music. It was produced by Berlin-based artist Jonathan Niclaus
, who has worked for Deutsche Grammophon before, notably on the Project XII
covers; but for Hermitism
he employed a different process, painting in direct response to Beving’s music rather than with a formal creative brief.
“The concept for the album was delivered without words,” he explains. “Joep sent me his new work, I listened to it and received the frequencies. I had to start drawing immediately. Later he told me what it was called and that it was about the hermetic rules, and then everything made sense. By listening to the sounds I subconsciously transferred the messages into the visual dimension. I translated the emotions generated from the music directly into my drawings. Everything happened automatically. Pasigraphic interpretations of the seven laws of the universe.
Another example of the close interweaving of music and artwork is the upcoming collaboration between British composer Roger Eno and his daughter Cecily, a visual artist. The Turning Year is Eno’s upcoming solo album and the highly anticipated follow on from his Deutsche Grammophon debut, Mixing Colours, which was the first official collaboration with his brother, Brian.
A mix of recent and new compositions and favourites from Eno’s impressive live concert repertoire, The Turning Year is gently awash with quiet, pastoral moods and free-flowing compositions that showcase his skills as a composer and pianist. He is also joined on some tracks by lauded German string ensemble Scoring Berlin.
”On listening back to the finished album, I felt that it could be seen as a series of short stories or photographs of individual scenes, each containing their own character," says Eno. “It was only after I’d finalised the running order that I realised just how much of a close relationship one piece has to another and it was this realisation perhaps that led me to the album’s title. I thought about how our years comprise of moments, days, and the changing months. Of how we live our lives in facets, how we catch fleeting glimpses, how we walk through our lives, how we notice the turning year.”
Cecily Eno, an illustrator whose intricate, suggestive designs tend to focus on interplay and connection, created the beautiful, organic images that grace the front and back covers and liner notes. “I work primarily in pen and ink and the particular pen I used for this project was one that Roger gifted me on my 21st birthday, so it’s fittingly full-circle that I can return the gift in the form of these illustrations many years later. Much like The Turning Year, the drawings speak to the idea of small moments, of shift and change. They are shaped just as much by space as they are particular marks or notes, a quality I’ve long appreciated about Roger’s music.”
Both upcoming albums Hermetism
and The Turning Year
are due for release on 22 April 2022.
by Joep Beving here
, and unlock an exclusive audio preview.