Behind The Artworks: The Medea Project - Sisyphus (2020)


We wanted the album to be more than just a reflection of our music. We wanted it to be a full piece of art that could be held and felt. The music had to be depicted in all aspects of the artwork and the photography and how the entire package was put together. The problem was that we had to start working on all of this before we had set foot in the studio….

MICHAEL ROBERT WILLIAMS:

We knew that we would have to do a new photoshoot as we had become a 2-piece. We had a photoshoot booked with our band photographer at the time but opinions differed, tensions arose and we decided to sever ties. We had decided that we wanted a more obscure image for the album and we wanted something different in general. We frantically scoured the internet for a new photographer and we found Michael. His photography was extremely creative and his photos were raw. It was as if you could see the soul of the subject that he had photographed. Having mainly photographed the Indy bands (Killers, Oasis, Vamps etc) we wanted to see what would happen if we worked with him.

FREDRIK WIDIGS

Fredrik had left Marduk to focus on his artwork. Our old photographer approached him to find out if he would be interested in doing our album artwork. For us, it wouldn’t only be an honour to work with an esteemed musician but it would also be on a medium for which he wasn’t known. This was a 6 month collaboration and working with someone with so much passion and yet a drive for perfection was unfounded.

FRONT & BACK COVER:

We had absolutely no idea what we wanted when we started collaborating with Fredrik. We started off by sending him the lyrics without any music and he started sketching based on his interpretation. His first sketch came out of Babylon and he drew a figure pulling two large boulders behind him bound in chains. The feel of this sketch immediately spoke to us as it was pretty much how we were feeling at the time. However, we knew that there was a rebellion awakening and we wanted the figure to eventually stand up in some sort of defiance but without it being too much of a storyline. Fredrik then sent us an array of concepts based on the other songs and lyrics. In time we then sent him the music and he continued to send through various concepts but we kept coming back to the figure pulling the boulders. In other work that Fredrik had done, he had drawn images from a core of a spiral form and we wanted him to retain that in his artwork. Not only was it the core of his artwork but it was also how a lot of our songs had been written. A lot of our songs end as they started with a build-up in between. The problem was how do we combine the struggle of a figure pulling boulders into some sort of defiance and within a spiral?

And this was how the title of the album emerged. Sisyphus, the story of a King damned to roll boulders up a hill to only have them roll down again when he reached the top. However, our version would come with a sense of strength, defiance and rebellion. Once we had the main concepts, we left it to him to put together and due to his quest for balance and synergy he came back with a hand sketched image depicting the male and female figures pushing the boulders into the Spiral. Initially we didn’t want the figure to relate to any gender or creed but in drawing them naked, he had captured their strength and defiance amongst the struggle.

The image as a whole was very clean with a classical feel to it and we decided that we wanted to use it on both the front and back so that there would be no defined front or back cover. We went with a white cover as it made the image stand out and we knew it would be pretty noticeable in a sea of predominantly black album covers.

INSERT:

With the cover being so sparse and clean, we wanted the album insert to be chaotic and dark.

We had done the photoshoot with Michael and we had our pick of artistic shots that he had taken. The image in the album insert is actually a “mistake”. The flash cable on the camera went haywire and didn’t go off properly but we ended up with the perfect shot. The image is dark and vague but with a very gothic feel and moulds in composition with the cover. Fredrik first drew the “void” when we explained that we wanted the insert to be dark and chaotic to reflect aspects of our music. It was borne out of the centre of the spiral but being the perfectionist that he is, he wasn’t entirely happy with his initial drawing. Also, having hand-sketched the cover, he was loath to use digital means to do the insert. Eventually what turned out to be minor adjustments to the original void, he nailed it!

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

During the artwork collaboration we started to get a picture of how we wanted the final package to work. On the outside it would be very clean and simple on white with just black and red print. On the inside, it would be a mixture of dark colours with all the print depicting a more chaotic feel.

We also didn’t want any printing to compromise the artwork or photography. We then put everything in template and gave it all over to Gary Ronaldson from Bite Radius Designs to handle all the graphic design elements.

To us, the finished album is a work of art in its totality. A piece of every person that contributed to this lies within and it’s something very special to us.

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