What Are You Looking At: Talking Album Cover Art with E*rock

Last November, local artist/musician/ designer/DJ/ E*rock started a blog called Light and Sound (www.urbanhonking.com/lightandsound) where he began to post scans of his drawings and collages. His work exhibits a liveliness and confidence, featuring bold, Magic Marker waves, collages of friends and plastic googly eyes, and occasional digital painting swaths. His works of art recall low-tech video game graphics, pubescent psychedelic daydreams, and the noodly, all-inclusive pastiche of screenfull.net.

E*rock gave Light and Sound readers a peek into some of his influences over the past couple weeks when he posted jpegs of his favorite album covers. With selections from groups as disparate as the Boredoms and Herb Albert's Tijuana Brass, E*Rock presented an eye-popping gallery of explosive color, hypnotic design, and freaky sexuality. Several of the albums' bubbly pen work, seen in covers like Wheels of Fire by Cream and Santana's Abraxas, reflect E*rock's chaotic, lavafield approach to drawing, while more elegant designs, such as Glenn Branca's Lesson No. 1 and Simon and Garfunkle's Bookends indicate his appreciation for minimal, soothing shapes and lines.

I asked E*Rock if I could come over to check out more record covers. Soon, I was in his studio, where he passed me album after album with little commentary. Having designed many record covers himself, E*rock said that it's imperative that the visual graphics match the tone of the music. All the tunes that he played for me that afternoon were abstract and playful, with foot-tapping drum machine beats, and poppy digital beeps and blings. When asked about the use of the computer in his own visual art, he said that he doesn't like to overdo it, except perhaps to scan drawings and collages in, and then paint over and subtly tweak. He said that he likes when it's not immediately apparent that any computers were involved, and passed me several limited edition, screen-printed album sleeves with handmade collage elements.

"Collecting album covers is great," he told me. "Hardly anybody I know can afford to buy art at galleries, and there's so much cool stuff being done with music, so you can get this great art and have something to listen to as well."