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Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

Mixed Company

Dacapo Records, 2014

The attic door

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen wanted a photograph on the cover for Mixed Company and it came as no surprise to me that he wanted it to be as neutral and everyday as possible.

The seven pieces on Mixed Company play with John Dowland’s famous Lachrimae (1596) – or Flow My Tears as Dowland’s song based on Lachrimae is known. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen takes Dowland’s music and transforms it in his own works – which he gives straightforward, no-nonsense names such as Run, Play and Turn.

But none of that really mattered when it came to the cover for this album. Pelle wanted us to consciously turn away from the themes in the music, and not to attempt to tell any story about it in the graphic design. He wanted it to be ‘almost empty’.

Accepting Pelle’s dogma, we both went through our personal photo archives to find pictures to use. Many images we thought might work were not neutral enough and were full of information that led to unwanted associations. Others were too neutral and became background pictures with no interest at all.

I found a photograph I had taken of my old attic door. The flash lighting gave it an informal, spontaneous feel. Ancient, typed name cards were pinned to the door, there were random marks in the wood and the tape that had sat there for so many decades was brittle and peeling away.

We both liked this picture; it seemed to have the elusive quality we were searching for. It was an everyday kind of scene but with ambiguous layers of time and presence. Pelle wanted to change the colour of one of the drawing pins ‘because the music is rather colourful’ and I worked in a comic touch by manipulating the type on the labels, leaving just lines and various letters. The rest of the design was made as simple – and empty – as possible.

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