AAA – Album Artwork Appreciation #1: Cut Copy’s “Zonoscope”

Album artwork for Cut Copy's "Zonoscope"

I won’t lie. The first time I saw it, I found the artwork for Zonoscope so striking I was compelled to purchase a print of it. (In t-shirt form.) The buildup to seeing this image was magnified by the fact that the album was a followup to one that I would put in my Top 20 of the previous decade.

I find the number of contradicting genre titles for music that employs electronic elements as confounding as the next guy. But under whatever category you place it, Cut Copy’s 2007 album In Ghost Colours is a masterwork. Songs like “Out There On The Ice” and “Hearts on Fire” are as emotionally resonant to me as anything disco has ever produced. And perhaps no dance song in the past 15 years can top the ecstatic peak of a rave like “Lights and Music.” (This coming from someone who can count on two hands the minutes he’s spent on a dance floor in the past year.)

A band like Cut Copy deserved the four years they took to craft their followup, and one of the first exciting tidbits about the new album to emerge was its otherworldly artwork. I know I’ve read elsewhere about Zonoscope’s resemblance to The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the iconic Japanese woodblock print. (Which I also owned a print of, in the form of a dorm-room poster.)  Zonoscope certainly does, but the striking circle-shaped frame of vision also recalls a porthole to a ship. Or a telescope. Or some fantastical instrument, a “zonoscope,” if you will.

I also love the way the wave forms off some unseen cliff that has apparently formed along 34th street, and reaches the height of halfway up the Empire State Building. From the angle the viewer sees the waterfall, it looks awfully similar to Niagara Falls.

There is also the message that society – here represented as New York City – is itself about to plunge off an unseen cliff. However we interpret it, it is a melding of sorts. Fitting that the artist who created the image was the late Japanese photomontage artist Tsunehisa Kimura. He melds nature and city with exhilarating, inspiring results for an album that melds musical genres the same way. (I’ll give you a dustpan and broom to wipe your exploded brain bits and skeletal tissue off the floor.)

BTW, here’s the full version of Kimura’s work. Truly awe-inspiring, no? In your face, Roland Emmerich.

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