Experimenting with different colored vinyl for special album releases is nothing new. What Marilyn Manson did, however, is pretty unique. Though few picked up on it until recently, the veteran shock-rocker’s latest album, The Pale Emperor, was released in January on the same thick, black polycarbonate discs used to make Sony PlayStation games back in the ’90s.
Pale Emperor art director Hassan Rahim told gamer site Kill Screen that the discs were sourced directly from Sony, which debuted PlayStation 1 in 1994. The black ink that Sony adds to the discs makes them harder (but not impossible) for pirates to copy, but that isn’t why Manson and company did it. The choice was made for aesthetic reasons.
“When you open the CD it’s pitch black, but we also added a thermal texture on top,” Rahim said. “After it gets hot during playback, the disc comes out all white.” As the disc cools down, the black seeps back in — a cool visual gimmick that’s in line with the light/dark imagery found in the album’s artwork.
Rahim and co-art director Willo Perron also experimented with the album’s Deluxe Edition, adding a gritty texture to the outside of the digipak and a glossy finish inside. “The contrasting textures definitely speak for themselves when you hold the piece,” Rahim said.
Pale Emperor, Manson’s ninth studio album, was released in mid-January on Loma Vista/Hell, etc. and debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 with sales of around 51,000 in its first week. To date it has sold 106,000 units (56,000 on those tricked-out CDs, 46,000 digital and 6,000 on vinyl).
Speaking with Billboard at the time, Manson said he was inspired by blues music for this release. “The blues is repetitious only if you don’t add your own style to it,” he said. “It’s essentially the same thing: life, f—ing, religion. But if you add your own swagger… “