Little did I realise what I was getting when I ordered Arcs Across the Sky by up-and-coming Birmingham band Johnny Foreigner from Norman Records. Not because the music was unexpected – good though it is – but because of the packaging.
The cd comes in a wonderful pop-up 3d sleeve which not only looks fabulous but is also a vision of an alternative Birmingham, one taken over by blue alien blobs. Although the outer packaging hints at this vision of a different Birmingham (and not the one in MA) it is on the the cover (above) and the internal art work where it can be seen most clearly, with the BT Tower, Selfridges, the Rotunda and even the vanished Birmingham Eye making an appearance.
This attention to detail continues throughout the object, even extending to the cd itself:
The only area which has not been given quite the care and attention it deserves is the credits, as nowhere on the package or website can I find who to praise for this. I do also wonder how this works financially for a new band on a small independent label, Best Before Records, as it must put the costs up significantly. Still, with art like this it’s well worth it!
EDIT: the Johnny Foreigner artwork is by Lewes Herriot.
Arcs Across the Sky my be the best designed and executed example I have of papercraft cd packaging but it is by no means the only one. Possibly the most extreme is the one for Argentinian Tangos and Lyric pieces by Grieg by the bandoneon player Per Arne Glorvigen, which comes in its own cardboard bandoneon:
I heard about this disc, and the package, when Glorvigen was interviewed by Andrew McGregor on BBC Radio 3. By the time the interview had finished I’d found and ordered a copy, which was an achievement as it is only available from the French site Music Argentina and I don’t read French.
Not all papercraft packaging works and beautifulgarbage by Garbage is an excellent example of how not to do it:
I think it’s supposed to be a fold out rose but as a package it is fiddly and difficult to get the cd out of and the instructions on which order to fold are no help.
This post has been about the package, not the music (I like the music on the Garbage cd, just not the case), but I would like to point people to more information on and reviews about Johnny Foreigner, which can be found here and here.
Any other examples of papercraft cd covers I should know about?
— Words and pictures by Paul