Autechre’s album cover “Oversteps” is one of the 50 nominees of Best Art Vinyl 2010. 200% asked Ian Anderson, the designer of “Oversteps”, to shine his “light” on this year’s nominees and to pick his favourites – and the reasons for their selection – in no particular order, well, apart from the first one.

Autechre – Oversteps – Warp
Because it’s the best.
Anberlin – Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place – Universal Republic
Clean, clear and immediate, but keeps you guessing as to the narrative. I trust things that implicitly aren’t what they seem – they appear more honest. I mainly like it for the name of the record label, nice idea.
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – Mercury/Merge
I don’t like to hear Arcade Fire, but I love the intense stillness of the cover image. It conveys so much about the subject, or better, it creates a format for the viewer to fill in the blanks and own the image of their own suburbia for themselves. There’s a sense of intense suffocation there for me similar to minutes leading up to the explosion scene at the end of “Zabriskie Point”.
No Age – Everything in Between – Sub Pop
I like this simply because it’s almost identical to and therefore, gives me an excuse to mention the “do not destroy” imagery TDR [The Designers Republic] originally created for Funkstörung’s Grammy Winners project that we still use as part of the Brain Aided Design rolling revue.
Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales – Constellation
Everything’s skewed – I like the balance and the drama in between, and I love the visual play of the typography. It has caught my eye all year but I liked it more before I realized the image was simply upside down trees.
Devo – Something For Everybody – Warner Bros
Everything up from the “focus group approved” sticker is potentially too clever, too literal to a basic idea, and some find the “ironic” involvement with Mother New York Advertising agency a little too close for comfort, but for me, it works. It delivers against what it sets out to be in the same way TDR launched The Peoples Bureau For Consumer Information not to sell merchandise, but to test theories and better understand consumer behaviour from the other side of the fence. There’s a sense with this project that Devo are engaging with, and immersing, their public into a greater-concept album – like Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Flaunt It!” album’s between track advertising: this is more encompassing than the usual songs-about and pictures-of approach to most album’s narratives.
The cover image is a perfect expression of all this with its nods toward “The Stepford Wives” world.
Glasser – Ring – True Panther Sounds
I don’t know if I do really like this but it’s a well crafted abstract image that sits well on the cover that catches the eye and I’d probably like it on my wall. Maybe I don’t like it because I can’t justify it – maybe that’s the point. So, I’ll vote for it anyway, unless the image is supposed to represent (shards of) glass – then I’ll have my vote back!
M.I.A – // / Y / – XL
More punk technology is more punk technology. It’s deconstructive and a beautiful afront to what, for too long, has been considered default good record cover taste in design magazines for way too long… Out: vile demons! Out: Helvetica 6pt “properly” kerned! Out: intelligent use of negative space! Out: “tastefully correct” cropping! Infact… Out: design designed for other designers! This is where PSB should have been all along 🙂 This, and the Goldfrapp cover for instance, both tell you a lot about the music – it sheaths ambition… the difference between this and Goldfrapp’s is that // / Y / is designed to knock people off the fence, whereas Alison Goldfrapp’s music seeks approval by association with whatever already seen pre-known chameleon theme’s lodging in her head at the time.
Mark Ronson – Record Collection – Columbia
I don’t like it but I think it’s good. It’s humorous and tells a story, although not necessarily an obvious one for his audience. It’s a clever way to convey both the idea of the title, the idea of the modus operandi behind it and the making of the album, whilst keeping the focus on Mark. Honestly, I’m not saying I like it!

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