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Nine Inch Nails ‎– Things Falling Apart album art

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jul 15th, 2020. Artwork published in
November 2000
.
    Front cover of the double LP.
    Source: https://www.hhv.de HHV. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Front cover of the double LP.

    Things Falling Apart is an album with remixes of tracks from Nine Inch Nails’ third studio album The Fragile (1999). Also known as Halo 16, it was released by Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records in cooperation with Interscope Records on November 21, 2000.

    The typeface chosen for Things Falling Apart is Index. Designed by Joshua Darden and Timothy Glaser at Scanjam, it had been released through GarageFonts in 1997. Index came in two sans-serif weights, Book and Bold, each with Italic, plus a solitary BookSerif style. The family further included a large number of extras, like small capitals, oldstyle and lining numerals, 49 ligatures, alternate glyphs, special characters like the long s (ſ), a kosher symbol, and an audio rights mark, as well as superior capitals for honorific titles. This was just before the rise of OpenType, and the extras had to be provided in separate “Expert” fonts. Some of the features like the optical sizes for Index BookSerif were still very much a novelty in digital type design. Index won First Place in the Text category of GarageFonts & Macromedia’s “In Search of the Next Big Whatever” International Type Design Competition. The family was discontinued around 2000.

    While The Fragile was designed by David Carson, with Rob Sheridan working on the web integration, the design of Things Falling Apart was solely in the hands of Sheridan, who recounts:

    We’d spent the last year [1999] working with legendary graphic designer David Carson, who designed The Fragile. I learned so much from the way he approached design. The way Carson shrugged off rules & embraced happy accidents was key to his iconic style, and changed me forever as an artist. It’s because of him that I never felt afraid of doing things the “wrong” way — indeed, doing things the “wrong” way became key to my own signature style.

    In regard to the typography, the things that were done the “wrong” way include the exclusive use of lowercase letters, the excessive letterspacing, letterspacing lowercase text in the first place, the omitted word spaces in the band name, or the stacked and (force) justified text on the sticker.

    [More info on Discogs]

    Back cover of the double LP with track list (uncensored).
    Source: https://www.hhv.de HHV. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Back cover of the double LP with track list (uncensored).

    CD front cover.
    Source: https://www.amazon.de License: All Rights Reserved.

    CD front cover.

    CD back cover with track list (uncensored). Of course the numbered list is not aligned to the dot, and has no space before the title.
    Source: https://www.amazon.de License: All Rights Reserved.

    CD back cover with track list (uncensored). Of course the numbered list is not aligned to the dot, and has no space before the title.

    CD back cover with track list (“starfuckers inc.” is censored with asterisks).
    Source: https://www.discogs.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    CD back cover with track list (“starfuckers inc.” is censored with asterisks).

    CD with “halo sixteen” in Index.
    Source: https://www.discogs.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    CD with “halo sixteen” in Index.

    Screenshot from thingsfallingapart.com, a website made to promote the release of the album. Index is here used with its small caps, a feature that was still pretty uncommon for sans-serif typefaces at the time.
    Source: https://www.nin.wiki License: All Rights Reserved.

    Screenshot from thingsfallingapart.com, a website made to promote the release of the album. Index is here used with its small caps, a feature that was still pretty uncommon for sans-serif typefaces at the time.

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    3 Comments on “Nine Inch Nails ‎– Things Falling Apart album art”

    1. Index had already been used for Nine Inch Nails T-shirts in 1999.

      The band relied on the typeface’s aesthetic again in 2002 for the DVD menu of And All That Could Have Been. Photography by Rob Sheridan. Art direction by David Carson. Image: Rob Sheridan.

    2. Hi there, excellent post!

      It would be nice to know more about those lost fonts of the late 90s – I recall having trouble identifying Index and others in David Carson’s work for NIN such as this example: images-na.ssl-images-amazon…
      Do you have any insights about what font is this?

      Keep up the good work :)

    3. Hi Rafael, thanks for your comment!

      Yes, the 1990s are an interesting and underexplored era. This first wave of indie digital type design brought lots of new actors with a fresh perspective and unconventional approaches. Much of the experimental faces were first celebrated and soon dismissed as grunge, and indeed a good chunk of it was not substantial, or made to last. Among the 1990s fonts that have disappeared are some true gems, though.

      The one you mention is one of them. I was stumped, but my colleague Stephen tracked it down. It appears to be Jensans, drawn by Jens Gehlhaar in 1997. It evolved from his earlier Cornwall and Crow, and was further developed in 2012 as Alfasans and Alfaserif. In 2013, Gehlhaar gave a lecture at Typo Berlin where he recounts the story. Jensans was shared with designer colleagues, but probably never officially released.

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