As MP3s reign supreme and record sleeve artwork gets all the more obscured by dust, Forss and his comrades are the futuristic folk rebuilding bridges across the music/visuals gulf.
Click images to enlarge.
In years gone by music lovers trawled record stores, not just for new sounds but also for the array of sleeves that were an inherent part of vinyl culture. I remember flicking through my Granddad’s collection and being amazed at some of the artwork, British reggae label Greensleeves providing among some of my most vivid memories of that era. Sadly, this pastime has dissipated over recent decades as digital files have all but taken over and cover art has become less important (in some circles at least).
However, during a 24-hour trip to Berlin i-D online encountered a development that could be the future meeting place of music and imagery, an interactive 21st Century incarnation of record sleeve art, taking the form of an iPad application. Swedish-born, Berlin-based musician Forss, and his collaborators Leonhard Lass and Marcel Schobel, are the team behind this new venture going by the name of ‘Ecclesia‘, in conjunction with his stunning album of the same name. i-D online went to infamous Berlin musical mecca Berghain to see and hear the guys in action and get the lowdown on how it all came about.
We’ve slipped in a few screengrabs of the artwork but as we’re sure you can imagine the real deal has to be seen in all it’s multi-disciplinary-glory for full mind-bending effects!
How long was the process that led-up to the moment you walked on stage at Berghain?
Forss: The first sparks for the idea were three years ago, I recorded something in a church and listened to it afterwards and thought “This is pretty interesting.” Ever since then I’ve been working on it, so the musical part has been going for three years and the visual part almost a year now.
So how did you feel before you went on to present the show to everyone for the first time?
Leonhard: Positive suspense, it’s a good feeling actually.
Forss: The best feeling of all is just before you get on.
Marcel: Yeah, I was almost sad to finish. It’s like; “What do we do tomorrow?!”.
Marcel: I totally want to build more applications. Through the making of Ecclesia I founded a company called untouch.fm which we use to publish the app and we would like to make more like this one. I’m really interested to see how people react Ecclesia, some will love it, some will hate it, some will expect so much more and we can learn from that.
Eric: For me it goes back a long way, I made my first album nine years ago and even back then I had ideas of making more than just an album. I was looking for the right medium for that but never had the right resources, I was quite young at the time. With the launch of the iPad and meeting these guys, everything came together and we’ve been able to create this really precious object.
Marcel: And it’s really interesting to see how different strategies develop within the music industry, you could do a free download of the app, a physical release, have a book, have merchandise… the net is getting wider, that’s the beautiful thing. Some people will embrace that others will just do their thing, who knows…
The relationship between music and visuals has always been pretty close, when you think of record sleeves for example.
Marcel: One of the key moments for us was when someone said it looked like animated album artwork, I was like ”Yeah, that’s what we’re doing!”
Music has almost been cheapened a little with file sharing and so on, so maybe having this visual element will help add value to it, making it more of a ‘package’ that people will actually want to buy into…
Leonhard: Exactly! We’re lacking the whole world around music, we’re lacking the artwork, the experience of putting a record on and the needle… so there’s a vacuum we needed to fill. It was very hard to fill without the iPad, because [on a computer] it always feels like you’re working, you’re not focused because of the internet and your email is open. Here you have this one device that you can take to the sofa, or to bed, and it’s a more intimate experience.
Text: Marcus Barnes