Visuals and music have the ability to communicate textures, senses, and ideas. Often music can alter the tone of an image (as evident in film), and when put together can heighten the sense of a composition.
Album covers serve both as the identity of the audio experience, and something to evoke the memories of the music (occasionally an entire culture).
Stanley Donwood is most notable for his role in producing the album covers for the band Radiohead, establishing a consistent tone across all the covers since their second album ‘the bends’ in 1994. The creative process of Donwood’s covers involve a close collaboration with the composers of the music themselves, positioning himself amongst the band as they create the album. Donwood will have aspects of the album etched into his mind due to the heavy repetition of music, lending to an understanding of the themes behind the album, of which a visual will grow from “It sounds to me like they’re playing the same bit of music again and again and again for several days but they’re not, they’re testing it… I find their music is very visual.” He believes it’s important to create a cover that replicates the essence of the band.
The work Donwood creates for Radiohead often depicts a very synthetic, yet organic nature. Which when accompanied with the sounds of the album, aid one another in feeling like a complete piece of work, joining together to create somewhat of a striking creation.