I developed my first notions of a graphic design aesthetic more or less by osmosis, snuck into my brain by record covers: once I realized I could identify the distinct design languages of a Blue Note record vs. a Prestige record vs. an Impulse record, I started to take note of the very non-arbitrary decisions that gave these tangible objects their specific and powerful vibe.
The iconic jazz labels (for the most part…) understood that the first encounter a person had with their music was the record jacket itself: the first “artistic statement” made by a record wasn’t actually the music!
Right in the store bin a Blue Note record “felt” different from an Impulse record, and some of that feeling colored the actual listening experience. Graphic design is powerful!
And, in terms of today’s music, it’s more or less defunct. That’s a big loss.
To get to today’s delivery model for music, all we’ve given up is
• great graphic design,
• authoritative liner notes (which were HUGE in my development), and
• sound quality!
Other than that, you know, yay, I guess.
Anyways, Maria Schneider’s latest record, which you won’t find in any of the streaming services, is gorgeous visually and sonically: it’s a throwback to when the music you’d buy had a compelling *tangible* component, a physical presence that was a big part of the experience. I’m grateful!