The Worcestershirean artist Sam T. Rees and I have worked together for a few years and we’ve made some record covers together. Well, it’s his record covers, I only make the sound part. He does his best work unobstructed (like most artists). The artwork is Art Work or works of art.
He is an enthusiast of print, ink and obscure old, rare DIY methods that never really caught on. He has an eclectic collection of obsolete printers, digital, analog, non-electrical, gelatinous or fully vegan. Some date back more than a 100 years, others (the one we use the most for instance) only 70. He appeared on Icelandic television once:
3d design indeed. I came into his studio one day discussing the prospect of the sinfonia project. He already had some ideas. He showed me anonymous 70 to a 100 year old drawings that he had ordered on ebay for less than 10 quid each. We wondered if they are faked or if they could be, if they are actually that old. They did a good job of making them look old so we figured that if somebody went through all the trouble to fake them, a) they did a good job and b) they would probably want to make more money off of them.
Why he bought these items in the first place I don’t know but they had this strange aura, like going to somebody else’s great grandparents drawers to find embarrassing doodles that were never meant to be seen publicly perhaps. I feel a bit guilty now that I say that. Nevertheless, the artists are anonymous to us as they are to the potential buyers of our record.
The elephant man on the front cover is such a drawing. I love it. Additionally there are trains and a princess of some sort. We both have a love of trains, and so does my son. Old obsolete train tickets have featured on our CDs before.
Up until now we’ve mostly done CDs but this time we’re doing vinyl for the first time. It is quite pricey but each “copy” is entirely unique, both the covers and the records themselves as each is recorded individually and everything is done by hand in Iceland – there is no getting things from overseas and sending them to overseas etc. The cover the records, the cd’s and everything are made by artisans and artists in Iceland (and yes Sam is usually based in Iceland but is currently trapped in England).
Me and Sam both agreed of the success of Lárviður by my band Fersteinn, the whole record inside and out.
But I find Sinfónía to be a high point of our collaboration so far as it is the result of a long-term collaboration.
His artworks are very unique, prints and dystopian installations of various robotized found objects etc. A sense of a dark but humorous but creepy eerie-ness seems to cloud everything he does, which might give one a totally different perception of what a consummate gentleman he is in person.
He works a lot with re-used materials – as a matter of fact, the vinyl covers themselves, are re-used. If you look inside each sleeve, you will find which record this sleeve used to cover, before it was inverted.