Known Johnson

July 14, 2005

Packaging lovers take note

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:32 pm

In our mailbox tonight I found two packages, neither of which I could readily determine from the outside what they were. The addresses didn’t betray their origins very easily, as I have a few cheap-buys winging my way from various Amazon.com used CD sellers. Once inside, I was able to tear into the packaging – one a small box, the other one of those puffy-package mailer envelopes. The box drew my biggest curiosity, as my only thought that this was the new Ween release through their Chocodog label, the mysterious Shinola entity that promised many previously unheard nuggets of weirdness. However, I was wrong – inside the box was the brand new Bob Mould album, Book of Song, the special edition (click through Bob’s blog to order)! I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months now, having been privy to a preview of one song available to hear on the YepRoc (Bob’s new label) site. The disc has just begun spinning up in my drive as I write this, so all I can say is that the first song makes an incredible first impression – if this is an indication, this will be one of the best albums of the year. I have a feeling the rest will actually live up to that.

For you packaging geeks out there, the SE of Book of Song comes in a textured black box with the stylized sunburst that adorns the artwork you can see on Bob’s site. On the back is a sheet of glossy paper printed with the tracklistings of both discs, and appears to be held on by removable rubber cement. Lifting the lid reveals a bright yellow gold felt cloth, in which are wrapped the two discs (inside their own black, flapped envelopes,) a couple of dozen artistic and intriguing photos (partially naked Bob alert!) and the album’s artwork printed on thick vellum, and a lyric book. To say the packaging is lavish doesn’t do it justice – this is beautiful work, especially for a “regular” album release (as opposed to a boxset, I mean.)

As for the music, four songs in and my prediction is holding correct – it’s a very, very strong album, and it doesn’t really have an analog in his catalog to compare it to. It’s not drastically different than his self-titled album nor Last Dog and Pony Show, and it shows some lineage from the electronically-flavored Modulate, but still it stands alone. What makes it seem so different may be the attitude rather than the music – this has an overall very positive, very “up” feeling about it. One listen, however, is far too early to make a firm judgement – all I can assure is that it’s looking to be a hell of a good album.

The other package? The latest offering from John Zorn’s Tzadik label, the Jamie Saft Trio taking on a small portion of the apparently 300 new Masada compositions that Zorn wrote last year. I haven’t heard one note of this, but the pedigree promises it won’t disappoint: Zorn’s new Masada compositions, Masada bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Ben Perowski. That this is subtitled “Volume 1” is promising – more new Masada can only be a good thing. Oh, and the packaging here is subtle and simple – a pearlescent white digipak with a tasteful diecut star of David and simple, classy black and white scripted text. What’s it sound like? Masada on piano – slightly less raucous than Masada’s sax and trumpet squawk, but obviously structurally similar. My only complaint would be that there’s no place to store the OBI strip that comes with all Tzadik label releases.

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