leafIslands of Matsushima

Many people tell us they really like the Mastsushima painting that we used for the cover of Sonic Seasonings. We fell in love with it, too. When in Boston, Rachel and I stopped at the Museum of Fine Arts there on Huntington in Back Bay (a very special museum, by the way), and saw the original. It was somewhat smaller than I expected -- about five feet tall, and perhaps twelve feet wide. It stands slightly folded, the panels alternating back and forth like an accordion bellows pulled out. After all, it was designed as a self-standing screen, a room divider of sorts.

The original is nicely lighted so you notice the shine of the gold paint that makes up large parts of the design. That property didn't show up too well on the original LP cover. The first reproduction also made the green hills look overly bright. The painting is rather old, and shows some signs of damage. There are those unfortunate large water-damage marks that noticeably mar mostly the large left group of hills. Most sections near the hinges show signs of wear and paint rub-off. The white paint of the sea foam is also thin to missing in several spots.

I've always wanted to somehow "fix" it a little, but without harming the original intent. This album, with its major refurbishment of the sound of the music, seemed to cry out for similar treatment of the cover art. Thankfully, with tools like PhotoShop at out disposal today, that can be done very subtlely and without losing the original, when you demand historic accuracy over beauty. But I did polish up the problems I note above, and made the gold sheen of the sky look as I remember it looking when I saw the screen in person. I did it incrementally over several days, backtracking whenever it seemed too far removed from the original. This is close to what the screens would have looked like when they were new.

If you object to my tinkerings, we have included the original, in a clean scan, for you to peruse. We are providing two fairly large jpeg images that you might enjoy viewing, perhaps comparing, and if you have one of those wonderful photo color inkjet printers, printing out. This is our way of providing, if not the "poster sized versions" as in the original LP, a reasonable way to enjoy this splendid example of Japanese screen painting (those posters were rather mediocre, and incomplete, too, missing the leftmost screen panel.) Something to look at it as you listen to the music, perhaps?

Old Matsu
The Original Image

medium size

new Matsu
The New Image

medium size

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Wendy Carlos, Matsu Painting 
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