Queens of the Superficial: The Work of Jasper Goodall

One of my favourite albums, ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ by Muse (2006), featured some stunning visuals to accompany its ludicrous science fiction concept and dramatic, electric soundscapes. Storm Thorgerson, renowned for his work with Pink Floyd as well as Biffy Clyro and Audioslave, dealt with the album cover featuring the space-age Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The single covers, however, were done by Jasper Goodall, a UK based illustrator who previously did work for ‘The Face’ magazine and currently tutors at the University of Brighton.

Here is the single cover for the album’s first electro rock hit Supermassive Black Hole. There is an Aubrey Beardsley influence at work here with this image, the glamourous eroticism is almost a modern take on the illustrations from Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’. It is very decorative and graphical at the same time. The heart symbols reflect the track’s lyrical content while the slick monotone colours and clean forms tie in with the processed sounds of Muse’s then-new club music direction.

Goodall’s style for the alternative single covers switched between the solid graphics above and the more ethereal look of this example, the cover for Knights of Cydonia. The horse makes for a good motif of the epic spaghetti western mood of the track and ties in with the galloping noises heard in the intro. The stars and swirling patterns of space cloud give the image a magical feel. The horse has been used by Goodall for other purposes outside of Muse; it has adorned fashion and is now being sold as a screen print from Goodall’s website. Goodall’s main intention is create pieces of art that reflect utopian dreams and fantasies; the impossible future.

I’ll leave you with my favourite song from ‘Black Holes..’ Map of the Problematique, which combines Depeche Mode synths, acid house piano and New Order basslines with Queen style harmonies and pounding drums. The Goodall designed single cover is a homage to the cover of Cream’s classic album ‘Disraeli Gears’, appropriate as Cream were considered one of the first ‘power trios’.





My Favourite Album Artwork- Courtesy of Paul Romano

Mastodon’s new album ‘The Hunter’ has just come out this month prompting me to re-investigate their back catalogue. For a group of bearded, heavily tattooed metalheads their music never fails to impress with its sonic quality and sprawling arrangements. The best thing about their albums is the simply gorgeous artwork designed by Paul Romano. ‘Blood Mountain’ (2006) in particular is full of great fine art influenced images depicting crystal skulls, wolves, mythical beings and intricate geometric patterns.


It’s definitely a step above a black and white photograph taken in an abandoned warehouse! Here’s a selection of Romano’s other Mastodon album covers; ‘Leviathan’ their 2004 breakthrough dealing with the concept of ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘Crack the Skye’ (2009) which narrated the story of a paraplegic travelling through wormholes in time to encounter Rasputin and the Russian Czar. Such unusual but intriguing  concepts are reflected once again in Romano’s distinctive style.


Romano’s website workhardened shows all his work with Mastodon along with designs for other bands and his personal fine art work. Here’s the URL http://www.workhardened.com/

Mastodon are due to appear on the new series of ‘Later with Jools Holland’ on BBC 2 at some point, making them the second metal band to appear on the show after Metallica. I’ll leave you with a track off of ‘Blood Mountain’, ‘Colony of Birchmen’ featuring guest vocals from QOTSA’s Josh Homme. DO NOT download the album- get a physical release instead. Even buying the CD means you can experience the very visual side of this unique band!