Music for Empty Ears is Seán Mac Erlaine’s third album. It features Norwegian musicians Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset and Irish vocalist Sadhbh Ní Dhálaigh. The final design for Music for Empty Ears brought us back to the first conversation that was had with Seán Mac Erlaine regarding his album.
Having known Seán for some time, we found ourselves standing on the beach head at the northern end of one of Wicklow’s most quietly beautiful lakes, Lough Dan. For many years Seán and myself have had our own relationships with the lake. Lough Dan has always been a place that I have associated with my family and friends. I have spent many years since I was a child walking its surrounds and have camped by its shores from a young age, canoeing on the lake with my uncles and attending scout jamborees with my friends.
At the apex of the western hillside of the lake there is a granite bench erected by friends in memory of a hill walker who revelled in that particular spot. Here you can sit and marvel at the lake in all of its splendour, with each season providing a new version to admire. Below you to the northern end of the lake is the beach head, and more often than not that is your destination. In the colder months you can generally camp there without being disturbed. And so we camped. To pass the time during the day Seán and myself, along with some other friends, played a game whereby we took turns throwing small stones into the still water. While one player would throw a stone and create a ripple, the objective for the other three was to try and get their stone as close as possible to the centre of where the first stone had hit the water, and to do so before the initial ripples disappeared. Whose stone came closest and thereby won a point was decided by the initial thrower, with this responsibility rotating amongst the group until a player had amassed nine points. I would like to remember it as if I had won, but I can’t honestly stand over that claim.
We worked with Seán for close to three months after that game, developing visual ideas informed by the core aspects of his approach to creating the album. Along the way we had conversations concerning all manner of considerations and ideas that we wanted to instill in the album cover’s artwork, arriving at various solutions that never seemed quite right for the project. It was at this point that we went back to the game. In the end the forms created by the ripples in the water and the way in which they visually intersected perfectly encapsulated the deep thoughts behind Seán’s work and Music for Empty Ears as a piece.
Bespoke vinyl packaging printed on 350 gsm boxcard reverse, produced using 3 spot PMS colours 1 side and 1 spot colour reverse.