Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stolen Mirror CD Production

the finished product

I've been in production mode the last week, creating a batch of limited edition CDs for my publishing company Stolen Mirror. This has been more work than usual, since I am releasing not one, but two new titles in the next little while. So I've been busy making three different packages. No, actually four, since I have a promo-only compilation in hand as well. Whew!

My old printer recently shuffled off this mortal coil, so the first step was to try to locate a replacement that would allow direct-to-disk inkjet printing. But there was not one to be found anywhere in Ireland! It seems this feature is being phased out. But it's the core of the look I am after, since it is so much nicer than the silkscreen process used on commercial disks.

1. printing covers and disks

I'll write more about that issue later, but suffice it to say I found what I was looking for eventually (somewhere in darkest England). So here's the result of the initial few steps. First the album must be mastered and burnt to disk. For this I use only high quality Verbatim blanks, so you can be sure of the best transfer and long life. Next I print in full colour direct to the disk surface. And then I print the wrap-around sleeve. All of this goes in a transparent plastic envelope for a minimal look that foregrounds the art.

I sincerely hate plastic CD trays and hope never to use them for my own releases. Whoever named them "jewel cases" had a Masters degree in irony.

2. printing and cutting obi strips

For a special hand-made touch I decided to create obi strips out of tracing paper. It took some experimenting to figure out how to print on these without wreaking havoc on the printer and splashing ink about the room. Slicing them into strips is no treat either, but I am happy with the results. Folded and bound with a touch of glue, they add a nice dimensionality to the design.

3. cutting board and blade

Important tools: a sharp blade and a cutting board or two. Also: a metal straight-edge, invisible glue, and scissors.

4. signing and numbering sleeves

The Marmaros CD has simple packaging since it's one long track and I don't need to explain it in any way. Listeners can always go to the website for further information. (I'll write more about specific releases when the time comes.) This is what it looks like before I fold the sleeve or make the obi. Note that the first fifty copies of the limited edition run are signed and numbered.

5. components for Marmaros CD

And there it is with the obi. I like the fragility of the thin strip of paper in contrast to the digital medium itself. It's a nice tangible contrast.

On a practical note, the obi lists potential genres to make filing my CDs easier. As if that is going to be an issue! Marmaros is "ambient | drone | harmonic". I don't think most music stores have a harmonic section. But it's an unusual quality in my work and so deserves special mention!

6. components for Device CD

The other CD I am (re) issuing is Device for the Transmission of Electrical Energy Through Air: Sound Works 1987-2012. The handful of you who own the original edition will be excited to learn there are two new tracks here. And, yes, I've updated the packaging.

7. components for Avoidance Strategies CD

I released Avoidance Strategies late last year and have sold the first batch (the "preview release") out of the run of 100. I decided to add the Obi strip for this run, to bring all three packages into common alignment.

8. finished CDs

And then there's the promotional compilation. This is designed for stores and other stockists who need a Stolen Mirror sampler.

These titles are shipping out to a shop in England tomorrow. I'll tell you more about that when I have a moment.

So there it is, the highly manual, hardly automated Stolen Mirror production line. One guy, paper, and a few sharp tools.


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