Friday, April 20, 2012
When I think back to my college days, when I knew a young(ish) Martin Parr, and am sure I drunkenly suggested to him once in a pub that using fill-in flash photography during the day was fine, I also vaguely recollect briefly meeting graphic designer, musician and co-owner of Ghost Box record label Julian House when we were students, and telling him, this was in the early days of Apple Macs, that doing intentionally bad cut-outs in Quark or Photoshop would one day be fine too.
I often believe in a vague sort of way that other people are living the sort of life I should be living, usually people who are creative, attractive and rich (well, two out of three isn't bad). Then I believe it in a very precise way that other people are doing what I should be doing. Julian House (who works for Intro) is one such person, being, such as he is (and I am not), a cool graphic designer guy who has designed iconic album covers for Primal Scream (above, with deliberately poor Quark cut-outs), Oasis, Broadcast, Stereolab and the Prodigy (though his latest for Noel's High Flying Birds and Liam's Beady Eye are somewhat disappointing), and some book covers (just the other day, in fact, browsing through book covers in a library at lunchtime, I came across a nice cover and said to myself 'that's a nice cover, it reminds me of a Julian House', and it was). His interests and influences are like mine: old paperbacks and records, Peter Saville, Saul Bass, Max Ernst, Burroughs, Lovecraft and Carroll. I'm guessing he's frequented a lot of charity shops and car boot sales. But whereas my trawls have involved a significant waste of time, money and a room full of crap, House's yielded a cult record label and a virtual music genre creation: hauntology.
The aim of Ghost Box, the record label House founded in 2003 with Jim Jupp, was to create 'not just a record label, but an imaginary world'. This world has the feel of 1970s children's TV programmes, 1960s Penguin sci-fi books, scientific text books, library music, vintage electronics, the BBC's Radiophonic workshop and ends up sounding something like the band Boards of Canada. The music, packaging and videos all hark back to a childhood (somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s) that never actually existed.
Unfortunately for Julian, Julian House is also the leading provider of services to single homeless men and women in Bath & North East Somerset and West Wiltshire.