Here come one of the most famous cover of all time, but also one of the ground breaking works done by the famous studio Hipgnosis for the Pink Floyd.
This album from the Pink Floyd was released in 1973, after being recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios, with the help of Alan Parsons as engineer. A lot has been said about how important this record has been to the universe of rock music in general, but it also is a true landmark on a strict sleeve design point of view.
The design represents three elements; the band's stage lighting, the album lyrics, and Richard Wright's request for a "simple and bold" design.
It wasn't the first attempt from the band and Hipgnosis at creating a conceptual and daring cover. They already created many covers without any name or title (Atom Heart Mother, Obscured By Clouds, or the previous one, Meddle), and the reluctance of the EMI staff to such a suicidal act was overcome, mainly because Hipgnosis were the employee of the band,and not of the record company!
The prism has been drawn by George Hardie, and it was Roger Waters who suggested that the light band shall continues over the inner cover, while Thorgerson had the idea that the light spectrum shall be recombined on the back cover by another prism.
The light band inside was then altered to form a heartbeat, as a reference to the famous one that opens of the LP, and comes back at diverse moments during the tracks. It also is to be noted that the light band misses the indigo colour compared to a real spectrum.
Beside the lyrics printed inside, the original gatefold cover offered a set of two posters featuring the band in concert and an infrared image of the pyramids of Giza. (Any help to provide images of these would be strongly appreciated!)
All in all, this is both a very strong design, that became iconic, of course, and a great reflection of the nature of the record itself : there was here a particular alchemy between progressive rock and a more technological edge, with the band making extensive use of synths and innovative sound experiments on this album. The neat and somewhat cold aspect of the illustration cleverly brought a very strong and mechanical feel to the design. And the transformation of the spectrum of light into a heartbeat was a great idea to reinforce this paradoxal feeling, and quite a conceptual statement.
Some may say this was a pre-techno visual, that annonced many later uses and abuses, the plundering of this by Daft Punk being a famous one. At least, it was clearly a turnaround after the more human or nature-oriented designs of the previous Pink Floyd albums. It reflected the importance of the synthetic experiments of the band, that, under the "Progressive Rock" hood, created some of the most electronic tracks to hit the mainstream charts at that time : think of "Obscured by clouds", of "Time" or "On The run" on this one, or of "Welcome to the Machine" on the later "Whish you Where here"LP...