When I got offered to take on a pair of Godzilla soundtrack LPs- one of those offers you’re saying yes to before they even get to finish a sentence, because the eight year old Greg inside is literally pending from the inside of my brain to do it- my first thought was to break form from my recent hyper detail oriented graphite work and do something new. The brutal flat symbolic thick charcoal sticks seemed to be the way to go, instantly. Make it all about the brutalist feel of the kanji fight rather than chase down some elegance. Go punk, like it could be scraped not he side of a blown out building someplace. So I went out an bought a box of compressed charcoal sticks in varying hardnesses, something I haven’t done since I was in high school and early college, and got to it.
I was frankly scared to death of this project because it was still early in my LP design thing I’ve fallen so hard into the last year or so, but also because of the insanely high level of talent that have already raised the bar to near impossible heights. The usual response to terror is fight or flight, but I like to add a third way: get weird and go nuts. So while YES, it isn’t advisable to take on a new medium while on a deadline for a high profile thing like this, it’s also exactly the time to do so. And besides I had done some charcoal pieces in the past… about 30 years past though. Big abstract giant black donut shapes. Not this.
The first thing I knew going in was that unlike the pencil this was going to be a kind of return to the full-armed attack that the old Sumi ink drawings had to them. The thickness and bluntness of the charcoal meant getting bigger. Full elbow wild dirty work big with aprons and blackened hands was the expected experience and it did not disappoint,
The thing I’m loving a lot about these LP projects is their multifaceted approach and packaging landscape. I get to play with a bunch of different takes on a subject rather than just a book cover image or poster. I also more and more am finding the material to build these with are wide and vast and more lately almost a wonders cape of possibilities where one can start from a place of pure dreaming and then see if it can be made so practically and affordably. So getting to this project which is more or less fairly straight forward 2x LP edition, meant the front cover, back and interior widespread gatefold were the main thrusts and I wanted also hit the sleeves with something as well.
Like most things like this and with me in particular… there were MANY more pieces made than used. This after all was a newish medium for me and the kinks had to be worked out… plus they were such quick frenetic unforgivingly permanent drawings, it was about hitting the target with a shotgun blast of options, rather than a single arrow aimed perfectly. At least that was how I saw it.
The LP itself was interesting because we could either spread the full soundtrack out to the full four sides of the double LP approach, but it wasn’t;t so vast a trackless that we could not say, compress it more to a three-sided experience and then friggin silkscreen an image onto the D side. (see what I mean? any ridiculous thing).
My partner in crime Spencer Hickman at Mondo/Death Waltz I think loved the work but I suspect secretly assumed we’d get the project rejected for not being in line with anything they’d done before. I think this might now be a common experience, and he’s keeping it to himself when I make suggestions… either out of a desire to keep hope alive, or because he’s drunk not he same brand of crazy I am. Likely both.
The carsick gray paper package with the printed white flats and blacks has got me already on the thinking for another thing now. I love how the final feels in the hand, and frankly putting an LP down from this on my turntable was a delight I never imagined I’d get to experience. And we’re doing it again with a King Ghiddorah LP coming next. Stay tuned.
You can get special edition copies of the LPs with an original drawing and select from a list of recently released originals going live today at NOON EST HERE.
In the meantime you can get a copy of the LP HERE from Mondo.
These are gorgeous Greg! Love the bold marks and drama of the charcoal approach.