Illustrated Tapes 154: Songs to cycle home to at sunset

Curated by Ed Dingli

Ed is an illustrator and designer based in Lisbon, Portugal.

Hiya Ed. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

I’ve tried to put together a selection of songs that reflect those moments when your shuffle just works and chooses the right song for the right moment that instantly changes your mood. Songs to listen to while cycling home at sunset after a long day sitting down at work, happy to be out in the real world and alive, taking in the scents and sounds of the city as the market stalls pack up and the crowds gather outside the bars and the tourists take selfies and the traffic piles up but you don't care because you're on a bike and this is what it feels like to be free and you wish you could make a movie scene of this moment with this exact song playing.

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

The illustration directly reflects the mood of the playlist, trying to replicate that magical feeling of cycling in a city after a day of being locked up inside, getting high on being outdoors, witnessing ordinary everyday happenings that somehow have a special feeling as they are tinged with the magical light of that time of day. I recently moved to a new country (Portugal) so I’m currently overwhelmed by all the new inspiration around me, always capturing references and doing quick doodles when I see something that I think could feature in a future illustration. I actually drew most of this particular illo while sitting in a public library that has great views over Lisbon, which provided the perfect inspiration for the jumble of rooftops and scenery.

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

Antidotes – Foals
2008, Transgressive Records
Artwork: Tinhead

Foals’ Antidotes has a lovely illustration but I mostly love it for its sentimental value, reminding me of my days at university in the UK when the indie scene was big and mosh pits at the student union were a thing.

Atomic Bomb – William Onyeabor
    1978, Wilfilms Records
Design: Poatson Graphic Arts Trade Ltd.

I love old afrobeat covers from the 70s, for their funky colour palettes and bold typography. William Onyeabor’s Atomic Bomb from 1978 is a favourite, him surrounded by all the synths and the psychedelic type as a header.

The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol. 1 – Sun Ra 
    1965, ESP Disk
Artwork: Sun Ra

Sun Ra’s record covers are as mind-blowing as his music. The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra has some amazing editions, including this beautiful rare Italian 80s edition. 

Awesome Tapes from Africa is a project that I love, both musically and visually. It has provided previously unknown artists with a worldwide fanbase and has some great artwork to match.

Expansions – McCoy Tyner
    19659, Blue Note
Design: Frank Gauna
Photography: Al Friedman 

And of course there are so many iconic jazz & Blue Note covers, but if I had to pick one it would be McCoy Tyner’s Expansions, so simple yet so evocative of the mind expansions that this album provides.

What did you listen to growing up?

My dad had Pink Floyd and Creedence on full blast, and my mum always sang Ringo’s “Octopus’ Garden” to me, so those are my earliest musical memories. My older brother had a big Queen phase whose cassettes he played and we air-guitarred to on an old hi-fi in our basement. My neighbour was an old Italian man who blasted beautiful opera out of the windows. Later on, as a student at art college in Malta, indie was the big scene so we partied to British indie bands and french electronic / Italo-disco music. The occasional reggae always went down well at a festival. And then I eventually opened up my ears to jazz and world music and that’s pretty much what I’ve listened to since then.

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

While living in London it was really exciting to experience the South London jazz scene unfolding in front of me, watching young artists like Nubya Garcia and Joe-Armon Jones was an absolute privilege, so that music is always on my playlist. But lately I’ve been really into Arab jazz and desert blues from the Sahara. The Mali greats like Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate are a constant, but there’s also an amazing new wave of artists like Bominbo, Tinariwen and Mdou Moctar, who built his own guitar out of scrap using old bicycle cables as strings. Music from Saharan Cellphones is an amazing project by Christopher Kirkley, who compiled music that was exchanged by villagers and self-made musicians in the desert, where wifi doesn’t exist and music is therefore exchanged by bluetooth and sim card.

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

A few years ago I left my job in London to focus on developing myself as an illustrator while spending more time in nature. I’ve worked relentlessly on my self-development since then, and almost three years later I feel like I’m beginning to find my creative voice.

I’m particularly driven by lending visuals to political / social or environmental campaigns, and I’m lucky enough be trusted by some organisations who are out there doing vital work to keep this wobbly planet adrift. I recently took a sabbatical to spend time volunteering at a permaculture project, and that’s heavily influenced both my outlook on work and my lifestyle in general.

I’ve recently been dabbling with clay sculpture, attending evening academic drawing classes and trying my hand at painting, with the everpresent aim of spending more time off-screen and dedicating it to sensory creative outputs instead.

Where can we find you? / @eddingles

Thanks Ed!