Illustrated Tapes 128: Only the dead have seen the end…
Curated by Adam Martin

Adam is an authorial creative from Somerset, currently based in Plymouth, UK.

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Heya Adam. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

My tape is drawn from a political poster project I engaged with at University which has sadly become even more relevant now, inspired by a quote many attribute to Plato – “Only the dead have seen the end of war”.  My main inspiration however is my family history; my Grandad who was in the War Graves Commission and had many tales from the Blitz, and also my Uncle who was in the Navy during the Falklands War, so it has echoed through my life as a topic through many different stories and connections.

The idea was to extend and explore the theme with a mixture of tones in music. Some of it is predictably heavy with bands like Black Sabbath and Muse, whereas mixed in I include strange wistful beauty in artists like PJ Harvey and Kate Bush. I tried to mix pain with action and the seeming hopelessness of human nature.

I would encourage listeners to explore the lyrics for these songs, as some of them read without music like poetry born from conflict (David Bowie and PJ Harvey particularly).

There's a heavy beat which is driven through the playlist which echoes the sound of boots marching, the drums of war, or the thunder of distant conflict. That beat, I believe, is a primal sound which is as eternal and unchanging as war itself.

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

As far as my own process, it tends to be more messy and sometimes destructive. I am never afraid to destroy my work for creative stimulus. I combined my traditional drawing with digital editing, which I then printed out, painted over, then scanned in again to rework colours and effects. Basically, it gets passed back and forth between my easel and my digital easel. Sometimes it never needs digital touch-ups, but in this case it was very much needed! I’m quite stubborn and tend to feel inadequate if I lean too much on Photoshop to make my work look good, but I have to just remind myself that it’s merely another (powerful) tool.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

TOOL’s Lateralus has one of the best interactive physical CDs ever, using transparency to build up the layers which form the front image. When you open up the package, you find that each layer of the figure’s flesh strips away in transparent pages like a book. This is why I will always prefer physical media to digital downloads, especially when the album is this thunderous and awesome to boot.

Lateralus – Tool
2001, Volcano / Tool Dissectional
Artwork: Alex Grey

Russel Mills’s work on Nine Inch Nails’s The Downward Spiral and Hesitation Marks (two of my top albums of all time) has really impacted me. I think this is where my love for texture and materials evolved from. Mills really shaped the identity that NIN has today which also feeds into the music, which is just as dirty, layered, textured and memorable. 

The Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
1994, Interscope / Nothing / Island / TVT Records
Painting: Russell Mills
Design: Gary Talpas

Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails
2013, Columbia
Artwork: Russell Mills
Art Dir: Rob Sheridan

The title track of Black Sabbath’s first album and the front cover go together hand in hand so perfectly, that it feels like it sends a wash of gothic energy through your body, immediately turning all of your t-shirts black. I also used to chuckle at the idea that the ominous figure was in fact Ozzy dressed in a cloak who they just found wandering around the woods one morning and decided to photograph....which it isn’t, sadly. The cover is just pure folk horror for me.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
1970, Vertigo
Artwork: Russell Mills
Design, photography: Keef

I think that album cover art is underrated, on the whole. If the cover doesn’t appeal to me, even if the music is good, I tend not to want to buy it. I feel so superficial just writing this, but it’s true. The image and the sound go hand in hand.

What did you listen to growing up?

I have recently realised that my bias towards heavy/darker music is probably because my Mum used to play 70s/80s rock to me whilst I was a baby; essentially, I was brainwashed from a young age, and now I enjoy the same things as her from that era (Gary Numan, David Bowie for instance.) I didn’t really get into actively listening to music until year 10/11 of secondary school. At that point  Muse were my go-to band (I still love them, mainly their earlier albums), but over time that has evolved hugely. My bus journeys to and from college were actually a huge impact on my musical taste, it was there that I used to experiment and listen to all sorts of stuff and make awesome discoveries such as Nine Inch Nails, TOOL, and pretty much everything I still listen to now.

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

When I’m working the albums that really help me get in the zone tend to be ethereal and atmospheric, sometimes lyrics can be distracting and sway the project I’m developing, especially when I’m writing. I’m constantly changing what I listen to based on my mood and projects. Right now after a crazy year and recent dental treatment I need some Enya going on in my head. 

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

For the last couple of years I have been writing and illustrating my book 'The Stone Tape Chronicles of Wiveliscombe' (current title) which is a culmination of my investigations into stories of mythology and the paranormal from my home town in Somerset, Wiveliscombe. It's half individual short stories and half serious investigation into the roots of such tales and where they emerge in the landscape. This will be the first of my authorial publications and I intend to make a publishing identity from it. I am about to finish the cover and will document everyone on publication info soon. All will be detailed on my social media.

Where can we find you
Instagram: @amartin_art
Facebook @AdamMartinArt

Cheers Adam!