Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans

A legendary sleeve from cover artist celebrity Roger Dean, for the English progressive rock band Yes. Dating back to 1973, this album is the perfect example of the decorative and dreamy sleeve design of the era, pioneered by Roger Dean : a panoramic other-worldly illustration going through front and back cover of the gatefold sleeve, a great deal of hand-drawn titles and texts, some highly decorated lay-out elements, and to some extend, a general style that is as over-the-top than the album itself (considered as a typical self-indulgent progressive rock exemple by some critics, while other points out its highly spiritual tone...)
Front & Back of the gatefold cover

Inside of the gatefold
An example of the label artwork.
As he said many times in interview, Roger Dean does not consider himself as a Fantasy artist (like for example Frank Frazetta), but as a landscape artist, and his influence can be traced down to the Pandora forests of James Cameron's "Avatar".
Clearly, Cameron was into doing some tribute to Roger Dean's works from the early 70' (like those two paintings for example). And chances are that he was introduced to Dean's body of work through "Tales From Topographic Oceans", the sleeve design that really made it popular.


But beyond this, Roger Dean was influencial in some other area, as his expertise did go far beyond the sole art of water colour painting. Not only did he mixed many drawing or painting techniques in his sleeves, but he also created amazing and influencial type works, like the band logo, that was used on several covers of the band since.
One of the many iterations of the Yes so-called "bubble" logotype by Roger Dean.
It is interesting to see that in this era, cover artists were already multimedia, using type and image in a seamless way, but using the tools available then : pencils instead of a mouse. But the attitude is the same : a cover is a squarred piece of art which characteristics is to take advantage of the dialectic between type and image, just like advertising do, and unlike fine arts, that scarcely have such an integrated approach until recent years.
That's why one might argue that sleeve design hasn't been just a part of the Arts, but a forward-thinking and decisive influence in its post-modern evolution. And with his fertile imagination, and graphic skills, Roger Dean was part of this.

One last point : in 1992, the German combo Jam & Spoon released an melodic and inspired EP that (alongside with Age Of Love's 1990 eponymous single) was to launch the Techno Trance craze : "Tales From A Danceographic Ocean", featuring the all-time classic "Stella". And it certainly wasn't a coincidence if they choosed this title : Stella was Techno-house discovering the power of complex hypnotic melodies, a kind of transposition of the progressive experiments of the Yes Album to the new field.

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