The resurgence of vinyl sales in recent years has catalysed renewed debate on what drives their purchase in the face of growing digital mediums.
Comparatively speaking we find little coverage of the aesthetics of the format; while I definitely find the sound of vinyl appealing to my ears in a slightly indefinable way, I also find the large format artwork and the possibilities for a really good looking product to be a large part of the appeal when buying records. With that in mind, here's a whistle-stop tour of some of the best from my personal collection.
AFX - Analord
Aphex Twin's acid explorations were released originally as a set of 11 EPs, the first of which came with an attractive faux-leather binder containing sleeves to house the rest of the records. The now rare binder is fairly sought after by fans of the weirder side of electronica.
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
The recent vinyl reissue of Beastie Boys' seminal 1989 hip-hop LP comes in a superb gatefold sleeve featuring a panoramic photo of Manhattan's Ludlow Street. The record sleeve also features an appropriately weird shot of the band; a great accompaniment to the psychedelic tinges found on some of the album's tracks.
The Ocean - Precambrian
Named after the geological period during which the Earth cooled, The Ocean extended the concept to the album's packaging with gusto. Stark photography of lava and Lovecraftian line drawings grace the sleeves, and the disc's colour reflects the mood of the music; molten orange for the album's opening blitzkrieg, deep red for the more restrained middle section and cool grey for the sombre finale.
Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Undoubtedly unique in its design, post-rock maestros Explosions in the Sky's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care features a quadruple gatefold design that can be unfolded over an accompanying poster to make a house and garden, complete with doors, windows and inner walls.
Tool - Lateralus
Featuring the fantastic artwork of Alex Grey, Tool's third (and to my mind best) album was issued as a double picture disc in a gatefold holographic sleeve. Appropriately spooky.
So with this in mind, what’s your favourite record? Is there an album with incredible artwork that’s really influenced you? Or is there an LP with such a unique design that you can’t get enough of it? Let us know by posting your comments below.