Godspeed You!
Black Emperor

Music Poster

Godspeed You! Black Emperor music poster

The mandate:
Interpret music visually.

The mandate of this student project was, upon random assignment of an artist and album, to produce a music poster promoting an upcoming concert. The artist in question was Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a Montreal-originated band whose instrumental music can be classified as experimental, political, and post-rock. This fictional concert was for a performance of their album Luciferian Towers at the Montreal Symphony House, a classical music hall that usually accommodates major symphony orchestras.

The process:
Listen, listen, listen.

The assignment demanded an immersive exploration that stemmed from listening to the album. The process started with a brainstorming of words but, more importantly, some thorough mark-making and visual exercises. Line explorations revealed cloudy, shadowy shapes, spiraling and intertwining, that bring forward an air of mystery. Images that came to mind were of two opposing ideas: on one hand, quiet landscapes, peaceful and lonely; on the other, busy, boisterous cities, symbols of both growth and destruction. Colours that emerged were cooler hues: blues and brownish reds, foggy greys and light pastels. Textures varied between urban and organic; typography leaned towards distortion and slight corrosion.

The concept that directed the work was that of a gradation from dark to light: the idea of escaping, the possibility of a way out from noise and cacophony. The music of Godspeed You! featured many contrasts – peaceful and loud sounds, lone instruments and ensembles – contrasts that had to be reflected in the composition.

Sandstone rocksPoster background

The solution:
Strange and asymmetric.

The final visual uses a picture taken during a spring trip to Hornby Island, British Columbia. It is a close-up of standstone rocks – a hard and eroded surface that seems to harmonize with the sound of the band. An already peculiar sight, it is edited to an unrecognizable degree to achieve this outlandish and eerie visual.

The colour palette of the poster is a mixture of cooler hues, that extend to extremes of lightness and darkness. This gradient is tied to the feeling of progression and evolution that intensified as the melodies flowed. The type – sans-serif, as commanded by the urban references in the music – was positioned to evoke something rising out of sight. The alignments, systematically determined, allowed the type to better integrate with the image and to solidify the visual.­­ This asymmetrical yet somehow well-balanced composition invites curiosity and encourages the eye to travel.

The benefits:
A unique experience.

This poster references the haunting melodies of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, while appealing to the band’s target audience. Whether their fans are drawn to the experimental side of their music, or to the beautiful and diverse experimental compositions, they are in search of a unique experience when they attend their concerts: this poster offers a piece of that experience.

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