I recently helped design CD packaging for the band, Generalissimo.The packaging style is one I have used for all of Ovipositor’s CDs (I’ll get photos of those up sometime soon). They did most of the design work, I just helped by making some suggestions regarding materials and form (the utilitarian monochromatic package, the embossed logo) and helping them focus on a concept for the package itself.
I think it turned out well.
The album, Western Medicine, was intended to be a vinyl only release, and they spared no expense in pursuing that – recorded to analog tape, mastered specifically for vinyl (this is different from how one masters something for CD), and pressed into 180 gram virgin vinyl. I’m not a vinyl fetishist, personally, but I do think that if that’s important to you then you should do it the way these guys did. Whatever the differences in sound quality may be, I would suggest that they depend doing the job to the highest possible standard. The vinyl’s used or flimsy? Don’t bother. Your cousin recorded it on his Fostex? It’s not worth it. The main argument for vinyl (from my perspective) is that it is a very mature technology, and several extremely smart engineers have spent several decades working to make it sound good. All of that benefit is negated is you press a flexi-disc. It will still play, and hipster kids will still buy it, but you’re not doing the music any favors.
Doing it the right way is, however, extremely expensive. The idea of sending some high percentage of those expensive records off to reviewers or as promotional items struck everyone involved as a waste of money. Furthermore, there are people like me who don’t buy records for whatever reason (although this one does come with the CD included and a great cover, so there’s a good reason to make an exception here).
So we hit upon the idea of packaging the CD as a 16 bit replica of the album. Something cheap and utilitarian that will give you the impression of the album, but not the same. It’s like a photo of a painting.
The package itself looks inexpensive and utilitarian, but still elegant. Design-wise, I was thinking of the crate-like wooden boxes that Sovtek Big Muff pedals used to be packaged in: something cheaply functional, but so cool on its own that you just knew there was something good inside. The raw cardboard, one-color printing, and hand-folded package all seem slightly shoddy, but the embossed logo gives it a sophisticated quality.
The CD itself has the portrait of the band printed on the face (painted by my wife), giving the package a shot of color when you open it up.
This is also related to the promo packages I sent out when our two bands went on tour together.