Formed in 2007 EMPIRICAL have been a constant fixture on the British Jazz scene ever since. Seemingly fearless in their approach to experimentation within each new release they have continually sought to push the boundaries of improvised music which in turn has left a whole wave of awards and accolades in their wake.
Since their second studio album 'Out 'n In' in 2009 I have had the great honour of providing the art and design for their three subsequent releases. For me it has been a great challenge and a whole lot of fun producing a look and a style that fits the sound of each very different album.
Tabula Rasa EMPIRICAL's most recent release and my third collaboration with the band was once again a chance to try something a little different. On this occasion they were very eager to draw upon the scientific angle of their name especially likening the process of experimentation to the act of improvisation. Also of importance to the group was the idea of the blank slate to which the album title refers (Tabula Rasa being Latin for blank slate) suggesting that each individual is a in fact a veritable 'blank slate' before knowledge is learned through experimentation and observation.
For any artist the ultimate blank slate is the gleaming white page of a sketch book staring right back at you, fresh for all your thoughts, ideas and idle scribblings. Transferring that over to a slightly more scientific setting I wanted the look of this album to appear as if it had been the frantic notes of scientist feverishly jotting down their most important findings. This was an idea that we then carried across into the 8 page booklet that accompanies the album which was laid out as if the band had noted down their own experimental findings.
'ELEMENTS OF TRUTH'
On the back of the artwork and design of their 'Out 'n' In' album I was approached once again by the band to produce the artwork for their third album 'Elements of Truth'.
The band were very eager to include the ideas of Spirituality and Mysticism specifically with the concept of the four Elements here along with the idea of Truth but in a way that did not seem at all abstract.
For this I opted for a style that to me looked as if it came half way between a poster for a depression era carnival freak show and revivalist church meeting. It was an aim at the combination of mystical iconography of the carnival show and the bold statement style of the travelling preacher.
For me the strongest aspect of this design was the inner artwork where I was able to turn the four band members into representations of the four elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water (pictured above). These were later also used in a poster to advertise the band's UK tour.
'OUT 'N' IN'
My very first album cover and first chance to produce what is hopefully a striking visual representation of the band's sound. Pictured above is the the finished design layout for the album itself as well as the stand alone illustrations for both the front and back covers.
This album although not a straight tribute was very inspired by the music of ERIC DOLPHY and as such the cover was intended to represent this. Having been asked by the band to produce an image that was abstract I decided to base it loosely on DOLPHY but hopefully turn it into something that was not necessarily immediately recognisable as the great Jazz man at first glance.
Having then decided on a visual style I then followed it across to the back cover producing similar images of the four band members themselves.