The Liner Note


Void Dweller
fahey was a super early adopter of the parodic, pseudo-authoritative liner note. but the ones that have stuck in my mind are the hilarious and eerie creative writing exercises. dunno if you'd call them mise en scene but they certainly set a very specific and fitting atmosphere.

A disgusting, degenerate, insipid young folklorist from the Croat & Isaiah Nettles Foundation for Ethnological Research meandered mesmerically midst marble mansions in Mattapan, Massachusetts. It was an unsavory, vapid day in the summer of 2010 as the jejune air from Back Bay transubstantiated itself autologically and gradually into an ozone-like atmosphere.
Knocking on a random door, haphazardly, the tasteless young man pondered the Hebraic inscription on the marble-tiled foot-brush, soporifically: "I wonder what the hell that means," he said to himself reflexively. The foot-brush backed itself into a corner at bay, with its back to the wall. Then, hissing at the wishy-washy young man, it reared up on its hind leg & stared into space, vociferously & stolicly. At this juncture a somewhat equivocal shoe-shine man opened the door, munching on a vacant popsicle stick. Before greeting the young man he reached up with a tentacle and stroked the aging foot brush on its fore, thus quieting the beast's existential anxiety.
"Pardon me," the unflavored young man said casually, "Do you have any old arms and legs you'd like to sell? I'm paying thirty-seven, twenty-five, ninety-six, twelve cents apiece for old arms & legs depending on the condition they're in."
"Just one moment," the splotched ontology professor mumbled, "I think we may have a few out back in the quagmire, or possibly near the fen, or then again we may have some by the waters of the boggy bayou. I must point out, however, that it is quite possible that we have none left. And I should also say that we may never have had any anyway. I certainly can't remember ever having any. (...)
There is a pulp-mill somewhere in Maryland. And this mill pours its refuse into what is now, but was not always a land-locked lake. And in that lake lived an enormous turtle, (only one) very old, very large, his shell painted by moss and pulp. You can (or at least I can) hear his voice, or rather cry, sometimes late at night when everything else is still. He was there long before the mill came. The water is bad now, but there are still a few carp and cat-fish on the bottom for him to snap up and chomp on. For some reason no one else has ever seen him, and as an amateur herpetologist I should like to say that he resembles no species that I have ever seen or heard of elsewhere. There he spends his days confined to the polluted water. There is no outlet. He cannot make it to the sea. Nothing ever gets out of that lake. (...)
Now, yet surer of himself, he proceeded back through the viaduct toward the magic place where Carroll Avenue is majestically transubstantiated into Laurell Avenue. Stopping to inspect his aufheben, bruised when he tripped over the street artist, he saw a familiar form approaching from the mystic corner, Domenick Zurubian, his boyhood friend and idol! He stood stiffly waiting by the glass front of Youngblood's hardware store not daring to hope that Domenick Zurubian would rec ognize him; it was as well so, since Domenick Zurubian ignored him with a vaguely hostile glance, and began to pass by.
"Wait" he called to stop him, the words tore from his aufheben almost against his will. "Here is your pencil."
A light began to glow in Domenick Zurubian's oblique eyes (yes, those fascinating angled eyes, in the form of a horizon tal seven). "Don't I know you from somewhere?" "Yes, yes, the fourth form in the Takoma Military Academy!" "Well, damn if I can remember who you are," said Zurubian, with out embarrassment. "There were a couple of ambivalent indeterminate young men in that class." Zurubian left him by the glass front of Youngblood's hardware store with a lame excuse, and a smile, softly and resolutely, crisping his lip.
"Yes, then: I am an ambivalent indeterminate young man." His voice was a warm human bourgeois whisper, as he resolutely dissolved into the fog with the sound of drying wild flowers. "The wolves," he said, looking out the door before the stranger came in, "are gone now." (...)
Emerging into the sun, he began to cross the gentle rolling hill of new mown hay when suddenly from out of nowhere a herd of wild dogs attacked him and tore his clothing and his limbs. Their teeth bit into his flesh. Screaming and bleeding he ran towards a farm house which he made out on a distant slope. Arriving there breathless he ran up the steps onto the porch. Throwing open the door he ran into the dwelling and slammed the door shut behind him. An old farmer who was seated in an oversized wicker basket jumped up at this and demanded of the resolute young man resolutely:
"What is this doggerel? Who do you think you are, running into my dwelling here in the midst of time?"
"Sir," he said, "I am beseiged by a herd of wild dogs. They have ripped and torn my clothes and I am bleeding profusely."
"I can see that you are bleeding and that your clothes are torn, but come look out the window. There are no dogs out there, and there never have been, not on my farm. What you saw was only some pages of old newspapers blowing in the wind. Come and see," said the old farmer. The young man turned towards the window and looking out of it he saw that there were indeed no dogs, now. Only old newspapers being tossed about on the sunny slopes of new moan hay. Strange though, they had the appearance as they blew to and fro of those very dogs which had just now attacked him. (...)
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Well-known member
an unfortunate choice of liner notes by Funkadelic


Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

sleeve notes by The Process Church of The Final Judgement, a cult sometimes associated with Charles Manson

Fear is at the root of man's destruction of himself. Without Fear there is no blame. Without blame there is no conflict. Without blame there is no destruction. But there IS Fear; deep within the core of every human being it lurks like a monster; dark and intangible. Its outward effects are unmistakable. Its source is hidden.

as George Clinton explains in his autobiography

There was a group called the Process Church that had been founded by a British couple as an offshoot of Scientology, and in the late sixties they started hanging out with the band, mainly in Boston. They would feed the kids in Boston Common and they ran what was basically the first day-care center that I can remember, offering to watch children when mothers went to work. We ended up excerpting some of their thinking in the Maggot Brain liner notes, which seemed fine at the time—it was a form of self-actualization, not an uncommon or unpopular philosophy at the time. We did the same thing for America Eats Its Young, but with far different results. In the summer of 1969, a career criminal (and part-time songwriter) named Charles Manson led a band of followers on a killing spree in upscale residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles, murdering a number of people, including Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate. The killers were under the influence of a crazy-quilt mythology that somehow tied together the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” race war, and Satan worship. There was some thought that Manson had drawn on some of the writings of the Process Church. I thought there was a difference—he talked about something called the Final Church of Judgment, and the group hanging around with us was the Church of Final Judgment—but this was probably too fine a distinction for a public still trying to get a handle on a killing spree. Rolling Stone gave us a hard time for the association in their review.


an unfortunate choice of liner notes by Funkadelic

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Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

sleeve notes by The Process Church of The Final Judgement, a cult sometimes associated with Charles Manson

Forgot about that! Remember babysitting my niece when I was 13 and looking through my brother in law's record collection (mostly rock/metal) around midnight, and came across this album - those notes (and the cover art) gave off a weird/occult vibe...had to ask to borrow it.

(Then my jaw dropped at how boring/crap it was, except the first minute of Super Stupid, but I know I'm in a minority on that one...)

Also: Whitehouse put out that Bradford Red Light District album with fake sleeve notes by Genesis P Orridge (who wasn't impressed, and apparently ripped up a load of sleeves at Rough Trade - the early industrial scene was worse than Mean Girls). The notes to their Psychopathia Sexualis LP are kinda funny/silly too.


Well-known member
here's an example of liner notes being an integral part of the cover design

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XTC - Go 2

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I don't think that is a liner note really because it's not saying anything specific about this record really (except for the lineup), it's a deconstructive text about recordings in general. I think it's all design and it's a quasi-didactic Art Language text instead of a pretty picture move. Genius cover but in a way odd that it came from XTC rather than Fast Product / Gang of Four. It's a bit Barbara Kruger avant la lettre as well.


Well-known member
more liner notes as cover design


Coil - How To Destroy Angels

for maximum potency it should be played in circumstances that are exclusively male and / or onanistic in nature


Coil - Scatology

the back cover continues the theme..


THE SEWAGE WORKERS BIRTHDAY PARTY. Inspired by a story in the Swedish magazine Mr SM ( no 24 ) not available in the UK ...

I'm not going to quote the rest of that particular passage, but amazing that they got away with it...


Well-known member
and more industrial / occulture liner notes, this time from the back cover of a New Blockaders side project, Metgumbnerbone


Metgumbnerbone - Ligeliahorn


which is basically one way of saying that they broke into some old disused factories and banged on things ( in a "ritual" manner )


Well-known member
Room To Live and Perverted by Language are where I glaze out a bit with the Fall post-Hex, before recovering interest again with The Wonderful and Frightening, but tempted to get these on vinyl just for the record scrawlings and haphazard design assemblage




Well-known member

Alongside the pages-torn-from-a-playscript mode, a lot of the M.E.S. liner notes are track-by-track comments - a throwback to how a lot of 1960s liner notes went through an album's delights song by song - except of course here they are gnomic tangents, cryptic and/or barbed asides...


Well-known member
All this typewritten text and the deliberately scruffy / careless assemblage reminded me of my all-time favorite liner note, which isn't really a liner note but purports to be pages from an imaginary book



from this EP


An earlier Scritti photocopied inner sleeve - not liner notes but demystify-the-process information

scritti skank deconstruct.jpg




Well-known member
According to Pitchfork, Kurt Cobain's liner note to the Nirvana compilation Incesticide is legendary

"A while ago, I found myself in bloody exhaust grease London again with an all-consuming urge to hunt for two rare things: back issues of NME rumored to be secretly hidden in glass casings and submerged in the fry vats of every kebab machine in the U.K.and the very-out-of-print first Raincoats LP.
The NME search was a clever, saucy upstart of an attempt to be, uh, nasty. However, the Lord and Julian Cope himself know how we need, need, need, the NME to embrace the unifying hands of our children across this big blue marble and NIRVANA's tarty musical career. So please bless us again -- we'll forever feed off of your high-calorie boggy turbinates.

In an attempt to satisfy the second part of my quest, I went to the Rough Trade shop and, of course, found no Raincoats record in the bin. I then asked the woman behind the counter about it and she said "well, it happens that I'm neighbors with Anna (member of the Raincoats) and she works at an antique shop just a few miles from here." So she drew me a map and I started on my way to Anna's.

Sometime later, I arrived at this elfin shop filled with something else I've compulsively searched for over the past few years -- really old fucked up marionette-like wood carved dolls (quite a few hundred years old). Lots of them... I've fantasized about finding a shop filled with so many. They wouldn't accept my credit card but the dolls were really way too expensive anyway. Anna was there, however, so I politely introduced myself with a fever-red face and explained the reason for my intrusion. I can remember her mean boss almost setting me on fire with his glares. She said "well, I may have a few lying around so, if I find one, I'll send it to you (very polite, very English)." I left feeling like a dork, like I had violated her space, like she probably thought my band was tacky.

A few weeks later I received a vinyl copy of that wonderfully classic scripture with a personalized dust sleeve covered with xeroxed lyrics, pictures, and all the members' signatures. There was also a touching letter from Anna. It made me happier than playing in front of thousands of people each night, rock-god idolization from fans, music industry plankton kissing my ass, and the million dollars I made last year. It was one of the few really important things that I've been blessed with since becoming an untouchable boy genius.

It was as rewarding as touring with Shonen Knife and watching people practically cry with joy at their honesty. It made people happy and it made me happy knowing that I had helped bring them to the UK.

It was as rewarding as the last Vaselines show in Edinburgh. They reformed just to play with us in their home town, probably having no idea how exciting and flattering it was for us (and how nervous we were to meet them).

It was as rewarding as being asked to support Sonic Youth on two tours, totally being taken under their wing and being showed what dignity really means.

It was as rewarding as the drawings Daniel Johnston sent me, or the Stinky Puffs single from Jad Fair's son, or playing on the same bill as Greg Sage in L.A., or being asked to help produce the next Melvins record, or being on the Wipers' compilation, or Thor from T.K. giving me a signed first edition of Naked Lunch, or making a friend like Stephen Pavlovic -- our Australian tour promoter who sent me a Mazzy Star LP on vinyl, or playing "The Money Will Roll Right In" with Mudhoney, or having the power to insist on bringing Bjorn Again to the Reading Festival, or being able to afford to bring my friend Ian along on tour just to have a good time, or paying Calamity Jane five-thousand dollars to be heckled by twenty thousand macho boys in Argentina, or asking my friends Fits Of Depression to play with us at The Seattle Coliseum, or playing with Poison Idea at a No On Nine benefit in Portland organzied by Gus Van Zandt, or being a part of oen of L7's pro-choice benefits in L.A., or kissing Chris and Dave on Saturday Night Live just to spite the homophobes, or meeting Iggy Pop, or playing with The Breeders, Urge Overkill, the T.V. Personalities, The Jesus Lizard, Hole, Dinosour Jr., etc.

While all these things were very special, none were half as rewarding as having a baby with a person who is the supreme example of dignity, ethics and honesty. My wife challenges injustice and the reason her character has been so severely attacked is because she chooses not to function the way the white corporate man insists. His rules for women involve her being submissive, quiet, and non-challenging. When she doesn't follow his rules, the threatened man (who, incidentally, owns an army of devoted traitor women) gets scared.

A big "fuck you" to those of you who have the audacity to claim that I'm so naive and stupid that I would allow myself to be taken advantage of and manipulated.

I don't feel the least bit guilty for commericially exloiting a completely exhausted Rock youth Culture because, at this point in rock history, Punk Rock (while still sacred to some) is, to me, dead and gone. We just wanted to pay tribute to something that helped us to feel as though we had crawled out of the dung heap of conformity. To pay tribute like an Elvis or Jimi Hendrix impersonator in the tradition of a bar band. I'll be the first to admit that we're the 90's version of Cheap Trick or the Knack but the last to admit that it hasn't been rewarding.

At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us -- leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.

Last year, a girl was raped by two wastes of sperm and eggs while they sang the lyrics to our song "Polly". I have a hard time carrying on knowing there are plankton like that in our audience. Sorry to be so anally P.C. but that's the way I feel.


Kurdt (the blonde one)