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Spotlight: Eyeliner's Mood Board For New Album 'Drop Shadow'

Spotlight: Eyeliner's Mood Board For New Album 'Drop Shadow'

C.C. / Luke Rowell / Image by Luke Rowell / Thursday 20th August, 2020 2:40PM

Currently sitting at the number one spot on Bandcamp's New Zealand charts, Eyeliner aka Pōneke MIDI pop magnate and Toyota Prius lover Luke Rowell (Disasteradio) has chosen six images from his virtual 'mood board' that inspired and informed his superb new album Drop Shadow. Check out Amelia Berry's all-animated GIF review of Eyeliner's first long player in five years here, and read Rowell's personal reflections on his selection of images under the stream below...

1. MSX “Kinetic Connection” box art (1986)

I love the energy in this MSX game cover, there is something so striking about the act of putting your own face together. Drop Shadow has a mix of ambient and boogie / RnB, and I tried to impart a sense of drama across the whole flow of the tracks, so the whole impression of the record is quite filmic and puzzly to me.

This idea of the puzzle ended up in Keith Rankin’s beautiful final artwork in the form of a maze. I like the idea that this record is a bit of a maze.

2. Keith Rankin illustration for Shibuya Hikarie retail complex (2018)

Right after the release of Buy Now in 2015 Keith Rankin got in touch with me about putting out the next album on his Ohio, USA-based label Orange Milk Records, so in putting the record together, that intersection of my music and his art was always at the forefront.

Keith’s attention to detail, palette and 3D shading form is absolutely impeccable. I love the way this image has a deep perspective and a dancing colour pattern with blues, coral and yellow that seems to glow and sing.

And in the case of this image, there’s something in the combination of advertising and high art that is so delicious (see also Yanni + Malcolm McLaren’s 'Madame Butterfly' on the British Airways ad)

3. Mysterious closeup (from old SEGA ad)

This is a crop I took from a late 90’s SEGA ad that made it into the mood board. I adore this Man Ray grainy solarise effect on facial forms. Is ‘90s noir a thing? (see also Batman: The Animated Series).

Something about the hard contrast also reminds me of the dramatic cover of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly. There is a lot of drama in the combination of colour scheme, camera angle and the pose of the model.

4. Early ‘90s Cherry Coke colour scheme

I remember Cherry Coke coming out in 1992 or 3, I was at school camp when it dropped and when my family visited my brother was super serious about how much I was missing out on Cherry Coke. Anyway there is a TV advert I can still vaguely remember, but can’t find on YouTube. It had this colour scheme of cherry red, purple, black and white in a proto-Y2K Aesthetic. I think there was a female dancer in the advert with either crazy white hair in buns or metallic headgear. I look for this advert a few times a year but it has never showed up.

Very early working on the title track 'Drop Shadow', I had that combination of colours in my mind. The tune has a strong night-time vibe for me which fits the palette. This is combined with the sense of going underground — it’s like descending down through subways on subways, and meeting funny and cool Fraggle-esque characters represented by the vocal sound effects from the Korg Wavestation.

The main melody of 'Drop Shadow' has two phrases that are identical except for the final note. To me it jumped out like a melodic analogue of the photoshop drop shadow effect, whereby an image is duplicated, darkened and offset to provide a shadow.

TRIVIA: The subway car sounds I used in the track 'Drop Shadow' are actually an intercity train from the Netherlands. I moved to Hong Kong earlier this year and I was checking mixes on headphones and the subway cars here sound identical, which I took as a good spooky omen.

5. Cinergy magazine advert (c. 1990’s?)

One of the main threads is that the album cover concept for Drop Shadow was to break away from the established convention of design elements, and into a full composed scene. Quite early on in the production of the record I felt I had been doing this musically as well. If Buy Now’s punchy, to-the-point arrangements and simple design-elements cover art were the “indicative”, Drop Shadow dips into the “subjunctive” with more reverb, textural details and atmosphere.

Sonically there are a lot more mise en scène elements throughout the record — field recordings, nature sounds, more textural synthesizer pad choices, sound effect synth presets.

Anyway this image style of early tech era woodcut print has always warmed my heart and I am always fond of the utopian air these images conjure up.

6. This one was in the mood board with the heading ​“Big awkward stock photo enlightenment while we paint the future

I love the bonkers community craft afternoon vibes and the energy / awkwardness in the model’s pose. There’s something so delectably off-kilter in the composition and scale that gives the image some funky movement. Or that the whole tone of the image is “Live, Laugh, Love” on uppers (and potentially Poppers) j’adore!

This was an early addition when the working title of the album was “Keep Calm & Carry On” but I felt that was a little too cliche, even for me, and the connotations about WW2 were something we don’t need right now. This idea of reification and elevation of suburban cliche concepts and phrases is something very strong in my work, but what ended up happening in the final album was using “Keep Calm” & “Carry On” as two consecutive tracks.

In the end, I felt it would be condescending to tell the listener to Keep Calm in 2020. The idea of “Dropping a Shadow” is much more simplistic and empowering statement. — Luke Rowell

'Drop Shadow' is out now via Orange Milk Records.


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