Today's pop culture is obsessed with reimagining a very recent past (just ask music critic, Simon Reynolds). The mainstreaming of hip hop and dance music has led to the ubiquity of remix culture. Hollywood's rampant remake-itis means relatively young properties including 21 Jump Street are radically made-over to conform to tastes a bit more contemporary. Even the cosplay phenomenon springs from similar desires to represent still-warm artifacts to younger audiences.
Enter Bruno Leo, the man behind the Album Cover Cover Tumblr. Part-reappropriation, part-artists' notebook, the blog hosts Leo’s reinterpretations of album covers he holds dear. It's a bit of a game that Leo has created for himself, as he devises a new work of cover art within the time frame allotted by each album's duration. In addition to the final image and a short blurb, each post includes the albums’ runtimes to prove that Leo kept himself honest to his own restrictions. Sure, he could have spent more than 29 minutes designing a new cover for Slayer’s iconic Reign In Blood, but, in his words, this project is an extended opportunity to, “practice my design and art direction skills."
Below, a timelapse showing Bruno Leo's 'Making Of' the cover of Beastie Boys' Ill Communication cover:
The man is, after all, a professional designer and art director at the Helsinki firm, Hasan & Partners, which he joined shortly after moving to Finland from his home in Brazil. As evidenced by the fact that his college thesis focused on the semiotics of Pink Floyd, album art had been an obsession of Leo's for a good while. He is quick to note that man behind Dark Side of the Moon's sleeve— Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis fame— is his favorite designer.
Is he going to turn out work as iconic as Dark Side of the Moon within the relatively short time period that is an album's running time? Likely not, but as the history of commodified music certainly is littered with cover art that looks like it was churned out in the same amount of time that it takes a kindergartener to nap, if anything, Leo's ability to churn out clever work in such a short time frame is the visible flexing of his creative muscles.
Of those clever cover covers, Leo has a multitude. His cover for Nirvana's Nevermind, which demanded 54 minutes of his life, shows a boy with a bucket full of cash sitting on the edge of a swimming pool, fishing pole in hand. The joke is that this is the same scenario as the original art, seen from a different angle. Equally cheeky is the reinterpretation of the art for Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf, in which the original's "sperm-entering-an-egg" imagery is replaced with a guitar penetrating an ear.
Leo predominantly works on albums that he has a passion for. His choices suggest that he came of age around the turn off this century, hence the QOTSA, Weezer, and Rage Against the Machine picks. One gets the impression that the vast majority of alternative rock fans (in 2002, at least) would fondly recognize his covers. Equally evident is a passion for metal, as evidenced by his tagging of Pantera's Cowboys from Hell as his favorite album from the '90s. There might be a lot of testosterone in Bruno Leo's selections, but the designer will confess that, like most cover artists, he is open to requests.
For more, visit Album Cover Covers on Tumblr.