From the iconic prism of The Dark Side of the Moon to Animals’ inflatable pig, the intentions behind Pink Floyd’s striking album covers still generate feverish debate among fans.
Now a teenage Egyptian artist has been chosen to continue that lineage by creating a memorable image to accompany the rock legends' surprise return with their first new album in 20 years.
Ahmed Emad Eldin, an 18-year-old, hitherto unknown Egyptian digital artist, has provided the imagery of a man punting on a “river” of clouds towards the glow of the sun, which will adorn The Endless River, a largely instrumental album, released in November.
The album is described as a “tribute” to Rick Wright, Pink Floyd’s keyboardist who died in 2008, and features his contributions from 1993 sessions for The Division Bell album, which have been enhanced by David Gilmour and Nick Mason.
Storm Thorgerson, the graphic designer whose surreal covers for Floyd’s classic albums, including Dark Side... immeasurably enhanced the group’s mystique, died last year prompting an international search for an artistic successor.
Aubrey Powell, Thorgerson’s partner in the Hipgnosis design studio, discovered Eldin. Powell said: “When we saw Ahmed’s image it had an instant Floydian resonance. It’s enigmatic and open to interpretation, and is the cover that works so well for The Endless River.”
Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Eldin began experimenting as a digital artist when he was 13 and is now based in Cairo.
Eldin told The Independent: “A creative agency working for Pink Floyd contacted me after checking my artworks through the internet as my work has appeared on online galleries on behance.net.”
Responding via email, Eldin described the inspiration behind his design: “Thinking about life and nature and what is beyond the world of charming factors we have never seen is enough to create millions of different amazing feelings.”
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“First, I draw a sketch for what is in my mind, then I start to simulate the sketch and the idea with real images, and that’s called photo manipulation.”
His Endless River artwork was displayed for the first time on an 8m illuminated cube installation on the South Bank. Images of the sleeve art were also displayed in prime spots in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Milan.
Although many will only see Eldin’s cover as a thumbprint-sized image in their digital music collection, it will also grace a double-album vinyl version of the album, designed to be listened to as a four-sided LP suite, with a classic gatefold sleeve.
The Endless River is largely instrumental, with one song, Louder Than Words, featuring new lyrics by Polly Samson, Gilmour’s novelist wife.
Gilmour said: “The Endless River has as its starting point the music that came from the 1993 Division Bell sessions. We listened to over 20 hours of the three of us playing together and selected the music we wanted to work on for the new album.
“Over the last year we've added new parts, rerecorded others and generally harnessed studio technology to make a 21st century Pink Floyd album. With Rick gone, and with him the chance of ever doing it again, it feels right that these revisited and reworked tracks should be made available as part of our repertoire.”
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