Lenguas Largas Design Work
Lenguas Largas are absolutely one of my favorite bands to have arrived over the last few years. Aurally somewhat hard to describe, their sound is one of those things that almost feels equal parts improbable and inevitable. A place where repetitiously sunbaked swirling psych sits atop classic driving song structure and gets hammered out with total instrumental overkill (their live lineup can be mercurial but you may well be seeing something like 4 guitarists and 3 drummers).
In fact let me just pause here for a second, as this review probably does a better job of explaining their vibe than I ever could:
“Lenguas Largas are a perplexing and truly original sextet from Tucson. They consist of four guitarists and a Siamese percussion section that shares a perplexing arrangement of drum equipment that’s operated with unorthodox utilities such as timpani mallets and maracas. Musically the group defies almost all points of reference, sounding something along the lines of mutant garage rock that you could soundtrack a Spanish bullfight.
From the first song onwards they gripped the audience to the point that even the wrinkled barflies in the back booths were taking notice as front man Isaac Reyes wailed over the hypnotic canvas of “Endless Sands,” and the subdued, yet driving “How A Man Should Live.” No review can do a band like Lenguas Largas justice as they are truly a force that must be experienced — the sound they harness somehow seems so distinctly Arizonian — and anyone who has a tinge of reverence for the unique depth of our fair state’s music scene is sure to appreciate it. “
So that’s Lenguas Largas, and when they asked me to design a gatefold (gatefold!) LP to be released by Red Lounge Records I jumped at the chance.
Above: Lenguas Largas “Abba Daddy” LP Gatefold Exterior
Below: Lenguas Largas “Abba Daddy” LP Front and Back Covers, Gatefold Interior, Insert and Labels
Lenguas Largas “Abba Daddy” Gatefold LP – Graphic Design
Conceptually working from the inside-out, I really wanted to use that generous interior space for something both visual and functional, which is an association that might date all the way back to my first job back in 1985.
Y’see, when I was 16 years old I worked at a used record store in a college town, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that at least 50% of the gatefold albums our customers brought in to sell showed CLEAR and VISIBLE signs of having been used as a surface for cleaning weed. In fact this was SO common that it almost seemed to me as though this had been the design plan all along. Form following function! Like a well crafted Bauhaus chair!
With weed cleaning something of a relic from the past (I mean hey, from what I can gather, seeds and stems barely EXIST in the 21st century), for the functionality of this gatefold LP I decided to run with “drunk-friendly board game”. After pouring over a zillion possibilities, that general notion finally boiled down to a (totally playable, natch) Lenguas Largas-specific variation on the classic Snakes and Ladders concept called “Lenguas y Escaleras”. The final printed package even includes several handy perforated playing pieces, so all that those lucky Lenguas Largas fans out there will need to provide is a single die. C’mon! Call a few friends up, slap that record on and give ‘er a whirl!
For the front and back covers I wanted to visually represent how the album felt when I listened to it, which was simultaneously, y’know, Expansive-And-Hypnotic yet Intimate-And-Lo-Fi (the fact that “Abba Daddy” is largely a collection of home recordings, alternate versions and experiments might have contributed to this sensation).
My solution was what you see here. A collaged riot of color married to a gloriously cheapjack printing process that might pass for a stack of dime-store sci-fi paperbacks left out in the sun under a melting box of crayons (and if you think THAT’S too poetic, as a narrative aside I’ll simply note that if my cover guy really IS the Abba Daddy it’s pretty clear that those four babies are eventually going to have to spring forth from his skull as the fully-formed jumpsuit-wearing members of Abba; just like Athena did when she leapt from the head of Zeus in that suit of armor.)
In closing, let me leave you with a quote from the Lenguas Largas Facebook page:
“[Lenguas Largas] hope to one day create a sound equal to the thundering ghostly stampede in the sky fronted by La Llorona and her plaintive wails.”
Note: And for the folks that just want to hear the music, the audio files for “Abba Daddy” can be purchased right here on Bandcamp.