Ghost Maps: The Ocean from the River (2013)

2013 Selection

Designed by David Smith and Oran Day at Atelier David Smith

Printing and finishing: DMS (UK)

Categories: CD / Vinyl / Cassette

Tags: Music

The Ocean from the The River is the debut full-length release by Jeff Martin's new project/band, Ghost Maps.

Our primary visual cues came from a literal interpretation of the geographic and cartographic references contained in the project title (Ghost Maps) and the album title (The Ocean from The River). The visual language of cartography (contour lines and other topographic conventions) offered an interesting way of mapping/documenting non-physical terrains, i.e. the music contained on the record.

Cartographic motifs have featured prominently in a number of iconic LP sleeve designs - Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Brian Eno's Ambient 1-4 series (1978-1982) being just two examples. Part of the challenge (for us as designers) was to ensure that this familiar (at times hackneyed) graphic language did not undermine or overpower the character of the music on the record - while endeavouring to produce an original and distinctive design.

The inclusion of a 'ghostly' image - printed on the outward facing side of the uncoated inner sleeve - was part of our client's design brief. The technique/effect of visually obscuring or hiding elements and then slowly revealing them was intriguing to both client and designers. Reconciling the need/desire to include a photographic element with/within the cartographic illustrations on the front cover directly informed the decision to use die-cuts and a spot UV varnish on the finished sleeve.

The cartographic theme (motifs and references) is consistently applied throughout the LP packaging, right through to labeling the different sides of the vinyl 'North' and 'South' (as suggested by our client). The dense, layered cartographic elements are contrasted with a confident use of 'white space' and restrained typography.