Ubu Sound

  • Client: Typography Summer School
  • Year: 2015
  • Discipline: Record cover design

Ubu Sound is the audio platform of UbuWeb, an online archive dedicated to avant-garde. As part of the main assessment for the Typography Summer School 2015, I had to work on a specific sound piece for which to design the record cover displaying any corresponding information available on the website. 

Lingua II: Maledetto is an experimental composition by Kenneth Gaburo from 1973, part of LINGUA, a 6-hour and 4-segment theatre performance. The oeuvre, made for seven virtuoso speakers, has a very particular structure that progressively layers all seven voices and speeches into a highly disruptive and rather unsettling audio piece.

The gatefold cover serves as a new, yet intrinsic, support and context for the work to be presented, interpreted and maybe explained. It features the sound waves of both A and B sides of the recording, superimposed into a single design to visually disclose the complexity of the acoustical piece. The minimal, stripped-down black and white design presents little text information to emphasise the abstraction of both the sound track itself and its visual interpretation.


Gatefold (outside)


Front cover detail


Back cover

On the website, where a biography or lyrics would usually be found, is an argumentative piece by Kenneth Gaburo, written as an answer to critics. The form of this manifesto interestingly and closely replicates the structure of Maledetto. The text is set in seven paragraphs (the composition features seven speakers) all introduced and articulated by the conjunction “but”, also used recurrently throughout the performed piece. Finally, the original text contains deliberate typos and peculiar text-setting (“BUT” always capitalised and used as a single-word line), all of which have been retained and are present within the website’s text.

This “anatomic” and contextual parallel between the audio and argumentative works is also made visible and physical through the design and gatefold object. The text which is displayed inside the gatefold retains the authentic typos and oddities of Kenneth Gaburo’s original writing. BUT is reworked to literally mirror the cover’s outer design and therefore is forced into the shape of the sound wave pattern.

As much as the manifesto is an explanation and a reflection of the audio piece, the design and use of a gatefold format intentionally toughens this up and offers a visual experiment around Gaburo’s definition of contextuality: “The structure of a composition is looking at you.”


Gatefold (inside)