Sleeve notes: Rob Carmichael on La Dusseldorf’s Viva

Five music-lovers from the world of art and design share the album artwork that has stuck with them since they first laid eyes on it,
and the effect the music itself had on their life and work.
Next up, Rob Carmichael.

Rob Carmichael is a graphic designer based in Los Angeles. In 2005 he founded SEEN, an art direction and design studio, after many years of work in the music and publishing industries. He has designed sleeves for bands such as Beirut, Tame Impala, Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors among others. Collaborations with visual artists, illustrators, photographers, programmers, musicians, and fellow graphic designers are an essential part of the SEEN aesthetic.


Here he talks about the importance of Krautrock
classic Viva by La Dusseldorf.

“In so many ways the Viva cover is nothing: a poorly reproduced logo up top and a quickly spray-painted “VIVA” across the centre of what seems to be an already used white LP sleeve. Drops of spray paint run down off of the “V” and last “A,” flowing in a slight arc, following the circle left by the ring wear on the sleeve. It’s messy, as if the artist needed to get the whole thing done under intense deadline. The whole sleeve is so gestural and immediate that the old “I could have done that” modern-art-is-a-sham critique springs to mind. It really ought to suck but somehow the sleeve taps into the divine and the result is sublime; epic even. Totally in-your-face, yet poetic. It is striking and graphic — it totally jumps out at you from a record store rack — but is also personal and gestural and massively tactile. I feel humbled just looking at it.

And the music: Oh my God, the music. La Dusseldorf takes the musical moves that band member Klaus Dinger first explored in NEU! and pushes things to a whole new level: La Dusseldorf’s music is anthemic, melodic and embraces a lot of the glam, punk and post-punk undercurrents that were floating around the late 70s. It is body music of the highest level: propulsive, ecstatic, and emotive songs lurching forward on a mass of rapturous drums, galactic guitar fuzz and gleaming synth washes. It reaches some of the highest emotional vistas of any music that I know – so much so that my wife and I chose the second part of “Rheinita” for the Recessional music at our wedding. I know of no music song that is more serious and propulsive and joyous.”

See more work from SEEN Studio
Read more Sleeve Notes

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