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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow "The Gathering Storm: The Album Art of" - Storm Thorgerson
"The Gathering Storm: The Album Art of" - Storm Thorgerson Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Monday, 21 October 2013

The Gathering Storm - The Album Art of Storm ThorgersonMaking its way into a very well-deserved space on our Floydian bookshelf is The Gathering Storm - The Album Art of Storm Thorgerson, which we first told you about in May, and which is being published by de Milo Art and StormStudios, on October 22nd, 2013.

Storm wrote and compiled this book over the last year of his life and was still writing it at Christmas - he saw a finished copy a few days before he died. It spans his entire career in album cover design from the 1960s and his days with Hipgnosis, through the intervening decades and it finishes with images he made with StormStudios this year. It is a well printed, rather luscious hardback book, 256 pages thick and available in three editions: Hardback, Collector's and Deluxe. Those of you with the previous book, A Raging Storm - also published by StormStudios and de Milo - will know how nicely done that was, and with the same printers in Italy being used for this, the same quality shines through.

With artwork created for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, Peter Gabriel, Wombats, 10cc, Audioslave, Black Sabbath, Biffy Clyro, Genesis, Rainbow, Steve Miller, Pendulum and The Mars Volta amongst others, a wide cross-section of people will no doubt thoroughly enjoy it. Our review, taking a good look at the contents, a fascinating, narrated journey through Storm's career, infused with his thoughts and explanations, can be read below.

The book has been made available in three variants, and orders are now being taken for all three versions through the official TGS website. Full details of the differences are at the foot of the review, but suffice it to say, you owe it to yourself (and to the memory of Storm) to snap up a copy of this wonderful book.

The Gathering Storm is almost a "greatest hits" of images, a book of collected works, but edited to fit the book (and to exclude some of the "pieces I'd rather forget than remember") and to document before "circumstance" (his failing health) made it too difficult for him.

The images were sourced from original scans and artwork, and wherever possible, are completely stripped of all numbers, logos and titles, to present them in their purist form. This must've been a tough step to take but pays dividends, as you get to see the images in a very "clean" way.

Right from Storm's preface, there's a dual sense of finality yet celebration, or at the very least, wanting to get a certain version of events, a particular feeling about a cover or situation, or comments about the attitude of certain performers, across in print. The comments and narrative throughout are made with Storm's much-loved and customary wit and wilfulness. One does feel Storm sticking two carefully aimed and well-timed digits up at various people and companies at various points. But then, that typifies Storm and his career!

The order of presentation is governed by the decades, although within these, pieces appear in seemingly random order to suit Storm's whim, and as he acknowledges and/or apologises for in the preface, often appear not overly adjacent to the text explaining the background, creation, and shooting of the images - along with barbed commentary over how difficult it was sometimes convincing performers and record companies that they really should use the picture Storm and his team had been slaving over...

However, in a break from the Storm norm, he talks at length as to the symbolism and meaning behind the images, all of which are presented beautifully, often one per page without distracting text. Some span two pages, where appropriate. For Storm to be talking about what the images mean is great - not something that he was terribly keen on previously. I remember a few years back asking him about one of the pictures at an exhibition. He simply gave me a 'Mona Lisa-esque', enigmatic smile, and I therefore made it a personal challenge to decipher the thing that was puzzling me - exactly what Storm wanted.

The next time I saw him, I told him of my success, only to be trumped with a slightly triumphant, "Ah, but WHY?" from Storm. He rewarded my persistence by revealing all a few minutes later, but this love of games, and mystery, in his images and outlook at life, made him who he was.

With recent works also included in the book, The Gathering Storm does exactly what the title implies - it gathers together some of the pieces he is best known for, or that he felt most strongly about, from throughout his work. Every page proves absorbing, particularly with his insights, and the addition of others talking about the works in small additional articles helps complete the picture.

Whether or not you already have previous books about Storm's work, this is really what I'd consider the definitive look at his career, from his perspective. It doesn't go into detail about his work with his colleagues in Hipgnosis and the later iterations (including StormStudios, the current team), but I suspect Aubrey "Po" Powell's book about Hipgnosis (a work in progress, tentatively due in 2014) will tackle a lot of the story behind the people and their professional careers, with The Gathering Storm proving a good companion book to this.

ORDERING INFORMATION
Orders are now being taken for all three variations of this book, through the official TGS website. You've got the following options:

  • HARDBACK: The book alone. The first 50 copies will be signed by Peter, Dan and Rupert at the Studios. Order HERE.
  • COLLECTOR'S: Limited to 125 copies this includes the signed book with a collector's box of 12 roughs (early draft sketches of cover designs) carefully printed onto A5 heavyweight card. Order HERE.
  • DELUXE: This very limited edition of just 20 comes with both the signed book and the box set of roughs and a deluxe fine art print of the Liquid Dark Side image from the front cover of the book, replete with special glazes and embossing. Order HERE.

Naturally, the limited editions will sell extremely quickly, and it may be that by the time you read this, one or both will be down to single copies, so don't delay placing your orders if tempted by one of these.

 
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