Friday, October 30, 2009

'KALA' - M.I.A.

Introducing M.I.A.’s second studio album Kala (2007) is a difficult task. Springing off her groundbreaking debut release Arular, M.I.A. took what we know as sound and rhythm and brought it up to another level.

The cover art for Kala is almost as groundbreaking. In an age of stream lines, Adobe CS4 applications and Cinematic Mac Desktops, it is eye-opening—not to mention refreshing—to see a graphic design such as this at its rawest.

From pixilated text to the x-rayed images, Kala looks more like a computer virus than an album cover. Lime green, blue and zebra-striped triangles line the background while repetitive images of M.I.A. herself punch forward.

The jacket, which was designed by M.I.A. personally, also contains graphic work by artists Cassette Playa (Carrie Mundane) and Steve Loveridge.

With tracks like radio smash “Paper Planes” and “Boyz,” it’s no wonder why M.I.A. would choose the low-res route for her album. The music is as raw and glitchy (yes, I made that word up) as the arrows and stripes running up the side.

The LP’s heavy political references also play a part on the cover’s appearance. The main portrait in the center has the words “Fight on! Fight on! Fight on!” repeated around the edge of the circle.

Although she has received some flack from industry folks for her creative decisions, M.I.A. holds strong to her grass-roots design aesthetics. It’s not a route many rising musicians would choose. She shows, through both her music and her art on Kala, that she’s not losing her identity any time soon, the same identity that got her there in the first place.

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