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Title: 100 best album covers – In No Sense? Nonsense!
Author: Storm Thorgerson & Aubrey Powell
Source: 100 best album covers

The Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!

The cover design for In No Sense? Nonsense! by The Art of Noise is an odd mixture of awkwardness and elegance, humour, and style. The girl’s face is beautiful but distorted. Her expression is cool and aloof, yet she is doing something rather silly and frivolous. The lettering for the band’s name is a strange combination of both very small and very large characters, and is positioned perhaps too close for comfort to the girl’s forehead. The end result is charming — both fashionable and naïve — and like the music, laced with humour. All of this is epitomized by the party popper, an arty image that made noise. The Art of Noise.

Fashion

John Pasche commissioned Alan David-Tu, who had recently arrived in London from Holland, to do the photography. His work was then very fashionable. John saw it as “very impressive; fresh and different, which connected to the fashion dement I wanted to bring into the cover.”

Strange stuff

“I was doing strange stuff, and John let me get on with it and do my own thing. The shot was based on ideas I was already working on, but was taken specifically for the cover” – Alan David-Tu.

Mannequin

The cover image is a manipulated photographic montage of a mannequin, taken with a Linhoff Supertechnica camera. David-Tu’s style was to photograph an image, distort it in the printing, then montage the hair on, at the same time cutting it into a particular shape. No computers were used. It was purely montage with photographic and printing techniques. Alan found a mannequin as a subject, masked off portions of her face and hair, and photographed her. He then cut up the shot, rearranged it, and re-photographed it.

Quirky

Art director John Pasche wanted something, quirky, something sophisticated that related to fashion but with a bit of a twist. There was a lot of humour in the music. The band was much taken with odd sounds. They experimented enthusiastically with the Fairlight sampler and recorded the noises made by objects dropped on the floor. Any interesting results were incorporated into the music in a wry and incongruous way.

Did you know that The Art of Noises was the title of an Italian Futurist manifesto, written by Luigi Russolo in 1913, advocating the use of everyday sounds? The Futurists also pioneered “wild” typography — long before the experiments of the Dada movement.

“The only thing coming out of her mouth was a piece of coloured acetate and it feather made to look like one of those twirly, noisy things you blow at parties. I also experimented with an iron cog wheel and a trumpet. They were supposed to represent noise — a play on the band’s name and the party popper thing seemed the right kind of twiddly noise.” — John Pasche.

The Art of Noise logo

Printed on the back cover in a clear spot varnish, the logo was visible only when the light caught it. The logo was designed by John Pasche when the band first signed to Chrysalis, and was used as the basis for the sleeve of the 1986 album In Visible Silence.

Sophisticated marketing

Derek Green, owner of China Records: “We wanted to market the band in a very sophisticated way. They’re called The Art of Noise, after all. We were absolutely delighted with the album sleeve.”

John Pasche

John Pasche studied at Brighton College of Art, and then the Royal College of Art, gaining an MA in Graphic Design in 1970. In 1971, John designed the famous tongue logo for The Rolling Stones (see page 139). During the 70s he was an art director at Benton and Bowles advertising agency and later for United Artists Records. In the 80s he became creative director for Chrysalis Records and won several Music Week awards for his album cover design work. In 1994 he became creative director at the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery Design Studio.

Specification

Artiste: Art of Noise
Title: In No Sense? Nonsense!
Art direction: John Pasche
Typography: Roland Williams
Photography: Alan David-Tu
Record co: China/Chrysalis, 1987