by Niyati DaveSep 14, 2023
“And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon”
The image of a prism spectrum on a black background, along with these lyrics, triggers nostalgia not just for a specific generation but for music lovers, across ages. With the release of their eighth studio album The Dark Side of the Moon on March 1, 1973, English rock band Pink Floyd redefined the genre of classical rock. The conceptual album created by bassist/vocalist Roger Waters, guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, keyboardist/vocalist Rick Wright, and drummer Nick Mason is said to be born from the pressures faced by the band, during their difficult times, exacerbated by the mental health problems of their former band member Syd Barrett. Complementing Pink Floyd’s musical oeuvre, The Dark Side of the Moon, too, relayed social and emotional commentary. As the album completes 50 years in 2023, Pentagram partners Harry Pearce and Jon Marshall, have designed a collector’s edition box set to celebrate the occasion, from their London office.
Inspired by the original packaging design of the album by English graphic designer and music video director Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, with illustrations by George Hardie, the 50th anniversary edition also builds on the iconic prism design. Marshall used different materials for creating the three-dimensional elements and boxes, which intend to imply a sense of discovery. In layers of packing, the box is unveiled from a completely black exterior cover with an embedded triangle, to a fully gold box in the middle, which carries the original album and the new live album.
“Nesting several boxes together was technically challenging as multiple elements were interconnected and needed to fit together precisely. We did not want to use foam or plastic inserts and solved the design through cardboard engineering with extensive prototyping and sampling, working very closely with Aubrey Powell, the record company and with the box set manufacturer. We developed many ideas on the way that helped us build the narrative even if we eventually ruled them out, such as including using a glass prism to recreate the original album cover and creating CD cases that could fold into pyramids,” shares Marshall.
The limited edition set includes CD and gatefold vinyl of the new 2023 remastered The Dark Side of The Moon studio album and Blu-Ray + DVD audio featuring the original 5.1 mix and remastered stereo versions. It also comes with an additional new Blu-ray disc of Atmos mix, plus CD and LP of The Dark Side of the Moon - Live At Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974, a 160-page hardback photo book, a music book, replica 7” singles and memorabilia.
The official Pink Floyd 50th anniversary book designed by Pearce and published by Thames & Hudson comprises rare and unseen images of the band. It also includes documentary photography taken by British photographer Jill Furmanovsky and the Hipgnosis team during Pink Floyd’s album tours of 1972 to 1975, as well as shots of original album roughs and artwork by Hipgnosis and StormStudios.
“Picking up on the Hipgnosis theme of ancient Egypt and Pyramids, I thought about the wonderful sense of discovery that’s built into the idea of a nested sarcophagus. The layers and layers reveal memorabilia and at the centre the original The Dark Side of the Moon vinyl. For the ‘live’ album cover we used Hipgnosis's original marked-up artwork. Working with an existing design classics such as The Dark Side of the Moon, it felt wholly wrong to create new conceptual imagery. More importantly, it was about honouring the original concept and complementing it with an empathetic framework,” mentions Pearce. He has previously worked with Hipgnosis and Pink Floyd on its record label identity and Early Years box set.