A record book collaboration made by artist Mel Kadel and musician Mike Aho of ((SOUNDER)) just dropped and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Mel Kadel’s paintings on coffee-stained paper stir up feelings of nostalgia, wonder, and heroism. Her art can feel like a visual hug as her characters wade through the struggle (of daily life) right along with you, and ((SOUNDER))’s music has a similar feel, making this the perfect pairing. Kadel’s prints are a prized possession in my collection, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this publication, which is the latest from Unpiano Books. A super affordable book full of Mel Kadel’s artwork, It Rained All Day, illustrates a new track by ((SOUNDER)) on vinyl, which is tucked into the back.

Song books were a staple of 20th century childhoods, when the record was just an audio narration of the story. With an art/record book, music creates a well-rounded viewing experience. In interviews, I often ask artists about an imagined soundtrack to their work, and there is never any hesitation to the answer. Art and music go hand-in-hand, and the results are rich when they’re produced in tandem. It Rained All Day has a perfect flow and rhythm to it, with one lyric on each page, and the images and music are clearly made for each other.

It Rained All Day is a story about a flood, and whether the narrative is read as metaphorical or not, it seems hopeful. The song is not overly joyous, but it is moving and meaningful. And experiencing something such as this, produced in mediums that might soon be rare, is a kind of gesamtkunstwerk, which is important right now. Paging through the story and looking at the illustrations as the story was sung to me was an immeasurable, visceral experience that no animation or web video could compete with. My heart flooded with a feeling, a moment, an idea. My own metaphors and memories were conjured, which is an honest measure of success in art. I want to buy a pile of copies of It Rained All Day and hand them out as a personality test to see if people I know can recognize something that is truly thoughtful and made with strong voices and open hearts.

Check out our 2009 Gallery Crawl interview with Mel Kadel, with music by ((SOUNDER)).

Spend a ‘Rainy Day’ with Mel Kadel 1 January,2013Kristin Farr


Kristin Farr

Kristin Farr is the creator and producer of KQED’s Emmy Award-winning web video series, Art School, and she is also a contributing editor for Juxtapoz magazine. Her artwork has been exhibited at galleries around the Bay Area including YBCA, Fifty24SF, Anno Domini and The Bedford Gallery. Her FarrOut art app for iOS was released in 2013. She lives in the East Bay and her favorite color is all of them.

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