miles davis

This wildly experimental 1970 double album saw Miles Davis fuse jazz to psychedelic rock, with unsettling, sinister-sounding results that would play a defining role in the future of jazz.

The gatefold sleeve, featuring a painting by the hugely influential German artist Mati Klarwein, has been interpreted as a comment on racial divisions in America, with a black and a white woman intertwined across its spine. The surrealist, contradictory light and shade of the sleeve is utterly appropriate for the pioneering, fusion melting pot of musical instruments on an album that divided opinion, being seen alternately as a daring departure or the death of jazz. The original work was sold in the 1970s and it’s said that Davis tried – unsuccessfully – to track it down and buy it the following decade. Klarwein referred to Salvador Dali as a “spiritual father” and his friend Timothy Leary once said of the German’s visionary style: “Mati didn’t need psychedelics!”.

His 1961 painting Annunciation became the sleeve for the Santana album Abraxas, also released in 1970, and the 52 record covers Klarwein produced before his death in 2002 were featured in a hardback 12-inch book, Mati & The Music, published in 2012.

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