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Album cover evolution - Storm Thorgerson explains Print E-mail

With any album cover project, there are many considerations to be thought about during the design process. When one is doing a fresh version of a classic design, these take on a whole new complexion. The last thing the designer wants to do is ruin it, or try to steal the thunder of George Hardie's original.

These thoughts must have run through Storm Thorgerson's mind, when he was approached to design the cover for the 30th Anniversary edition of Dark Side Of The Moon. Storm, long time collaborator with the Floyd, was part of Hipgnosis, a design team that produced most of their covers over the years, and he designed the new cover with Peter Curzon, Dan Abbott and Lee Baker.

Storm's thoughts on the design process of the cover were on the revised official Pink Floyd site at the time, and here was what he had to say:

"The new but not so new artwork for the SACD 30th anniversary edition of The Dark Side Of The Moon is a photograph of a real stained glass window. This has been custom made of french polished antique glass by a professional stained glass outfit based in North London. It has been constructed to match the specific dimensions and proportions of the original graphic prism design of the 1973 album cover. It has typical leading of course to hold the separate bits of different coloured glass adjacent. The prism itself is made of 2 layers of flash glass, and we have added a border of sparkle glass to round it off in true stained glass style, with a little extra blue for cropping safety in finished a/w. There is no black stained glass as such, at least not that one can see through. Since transparency is an essential quality of glass I decide to make what was black in the original design a kind of deep purpley/blue in the new window. Due to a mixture of paranoia and prudence we actually had 2 different windows made by 2 different companies, one used on the front cover and one used on the inlay. This second window is actually fashioned in a quite different manner using painted or fired glass panels.

The idea derived from a sense of purity in the sound quality, being 5.1 surround sound, assiduously remixed by James Guthrie from original tapes retrieved from the vaults of the legendary Abbey Rd studios in London. The making of the stained glass visually speaking felt equivalent to the SACD procedure for reproducing sound, doing for the eyes what SACD might do for the ears. The glass window, which obviously admits light to pass, also seemed a neat and appropriate vehicle for expressing something about light which is passing through glass, namely a prism. It is a 'light' or window type thing about an aspect of light. The medium is also the message, so to speak. The stained glass window is 'twice' light or extra light, as SACD is extra sound - cannot get any purer, or any better, or any more itself, if you follow my drift. There was also a desire to be the same but different, such that the design was clearly DSoM, still the recognisable prism design, but was different and hence new, in the same way as 5.1 is the same DSoM music but different and therefore 'new.'

The photography turned out to be more awkward than expected because each time one altered the circumstances, interior or exterior, the kind or position of the sun or lights, or the reflections in the glass, or even what was seen through the glass, it dramatically altered the end result. The final preference was for an exterior location with a mixed background of trees and buildings with the noonday sun shining directly and appropriately through the top of the prism. One feature not entirely anticipated was the seeing of 3 levels of activity in the window ie what was in front (the reflections), what was behind (objects other side seen through the glass), and what was within, like bubbles ripples and imperfections found in the texture of the glass itself, more visible in stained than ordinary glass. And 3 of course is the favoured the number, because this is the 30th anniverary and because March is the 3rd month of the 3rd year of the 3rd millenium and because the beloved prism is a 3 sided figure. And so in the booklet we decide to mark the occasion with a host of visual bits - 30 bits for the 30th - 30 Darkside images previously deployed for the most part in DSoM packaging over the years. Some pieces well known and some more obscure, perhaps never seen before; some clearly sourced others not quite so clear, some formal, others of a more humorous nature... or so we hoped. This not so profound exercise posed a slight logistical problem of arrangement in a booklet made in multiples of 4 ie 4 page increments. I leave you, dear reader, to spot the formula."

Finally, here are a couple of pictures of the cover - the proposed, interim cover, and the final version, a photograph of the window itself:

Dark Side Of The Moon SACD interim design  Dark Side Of The Moon SACD final design
Interim design ---- Final design 


 
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