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(Above) Dystopian Fluid. (Below) Airlock.
images courtesy of lazandes gallery
radio dada For all their talk of fair trade and cataclysmic capitalism, Radiohead have been doing a fine line in limited edition CDs ever since their landmark 2000 outing, Kid A. While random copies of the regular jewel case edition contained a hidden booklet of artwork under the CD tray, the limited edition version came as a chunky cardboard storybook, with images of apocalyptic landscapes covered in snow, blood and grinning bears. The following year saw the release of Amnesiac, again accompanied by a collector’s edition. The red, cloth-covered library book contained previously unseen artwork that fixated on subterranean etchings, labyrinthine architecture and scribbled drawings of the Minotaur. For Hail to the Thief, released in 2003, Radiohead returned to the surface with a series of cartographic images depicting various cities from around the world. Blocks and districts were mapped out in words
and phrases – dupe, gullible, jaws of hell – creating the impression of an inescapable geography of lies and half-truths. This time, the limited edition CD came as a fold out poster sized map. For the current CD, In Rainbows, Radiohead have once again teamed up with long-term collaborator and unofficial sixth member of the group, Stanley Donwood, the artist behind the band’s striking imagery for over a decade. In spite of the fact that he’s worked with the band since The Bends, Donwood says he’s still finding his feet. “I’m not sure that I have a creative process, or even understand what one is,” he explains. “I’ve changed the way that I work in tandem with becoming older and learning more. My usual method involves a lot of talking, a lot of thinking, and a huge number of mistakes.” Radiohead aren’t exactly known for sing-along pop songs, and the work Donwood has produced in tandem
Links Stanley Donwood: www.slowlydownward.com Lazarides Gallery: www.lazarides.co.uk Archive of art, Radiohead.com: www.hodiaudirekton.blogspot.com
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(Above) Hide. (Below) Hydrocarbon Landscape 2.
with the band creating music has tended to reflect the darker side of human experience. For the In Rainbows artwork, however, Donwood seems to have turned over a new leaf. “I’m concerned that my work tends towards the oppressive, and this wasn’t looking like it was going to be an oppressive record,” he explains. “I find it difficult to work
with colour, but it soon became clear that I had two ideas for the new album; suburbia, which I called xurbia, and colourful abstract work.” The suburban work, on the band’s website since March, formed the core of a show Donwood put on in June at Lazarides Gallery in London, called If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now. The abstract imagery became the
artwork for In Rainbows. “I think the phrase ‘in rainbows’ was first heard in December of last year, although it was more as a vague idea than a putative album title,” Donwood recalls. “Knowing the title has never had anything to do with how the artwork develops, but I do like the ways the title retrospectively hints at the meanings of the images.” SW
Published on Sep 19, 2008
British artist Stanley Donwood, long-time collaborator with the band Radiohead, talks anxiety and album covers in this exclusive interview.