The Fantastic Fourth

The Invisible Girl“The Invisible Girl” is the title for my latest contribution to the Squat mix CD club. It’s not as late as its predecessor, but it wasn’t on time, either; I only shipped it today, two and a half weeks after the original deadline of 31 May. If I can offer any excuse, it’s that my packaging for this round was more complex — and expensive — than ever.

The High Price of Transparency

Somehow I got it into my head that a clear DVD case and a sleeve inkjet-printed on transparency film would make for an attractive package for this round’s contribution. That idea came to me one day back in May, and I wouldn’t let it go, even as the costs started adding up.

Squat 4: The Invisible Girl

The DVD cases were reasonably priced, but the shipping was exorbitant. Then I realized that the transparency film would be even more expensive than the cases themselves, but I’d already bought the cases, so I wasn’t about to print sleeves for them on plain old laser paper. When I realized that branding-free CD-Rs were impossible to find at a retail store, I had to special order those. And then of course I had to buy a certain kind of label (luckily, another Squat member was kind enough to tip me off to those) to inkjet-print and affix to those CD-Rs, so as not to spoil the increasingly fussy nature of my design. And on top of all of that, I burned and labeled about thirty copies of my mix with the wrong track order.

How Fun Was That?

It’s not clear to me why I put so much effort and money into this round, but in spite of all the hassles and all of the hoops through which I had to jump, it was a lot of fun. Though this was hardly a traditional print design job, it did entail working with physical objects, at least. In that respect it was engaging, and not at all riddled with the excruciating technicalities of print that I’ve complained about in the past. I think the difference was that producing the final design was my responsibility, and it wasn’t necessary to hand off my production efforts to a printer to see that final product. That makes all the difference in the world.

Irreconcilable Differences

Above: a snapshot of the final CD and package, sitting on the floor at the office. You can see through it, see?

That said, I’m pretty sure that, after this fourth round, I’m going to opt out of future Squat exchanges. It’s not just that I fear the expense and complications that I might take on for a fifth round (I do). Rather, I think that my musical tastes aren’t particularly in line with the other club members… maybe they never were, but I’ve noticed that, with this round, I’m less enthused by the music I’ve received than ever before.

Below: the full cover artwork, without all the messy details of the physical world. See a larger version of the picture by clicking on it.

I don’t mean to dismiss them all out of hand; there’s always something interesting in these CDs, and that’s true this time, too. I just know that I don’t need to hear any more CD compilations that include songs by the Magnetic Fields — or any Stephin Merritt side project — ever again. I actually like the Magnetic Fields (in measured doses) and own a few of their CDs, but I think I’ve more or less come to the end of the line in my relationship with indie music as an exclusive listening library.

Cover Artwork

Not that the other music I’m listening to is so much more hip, either. You could poke a Swiss-cheese number of holes in the street cred of “The Invisible Girl,” and I know that. But it’s as good a snapshot of what entertains me these days as any: semi-obscure oldies, some IDM, and plenty of over-sexed hip-hop. I’m okay with that.

The Track List

  1. Miller, Jacob  Tenement Yard
  2. Costello, Elvis  Seconds of Pleasure
  3. Dexy’s Midnight Runners  This Is What She’s Like
  4. LL Cool J  That’s a Lie
  5. Antipop Consortium  Place the Face
  6. The Libertines  Tell the King
  7. Eve  Irresistible Chick
  8. Large Professor w. Busta Rhymes  On
  9. Iglesias, Alberto  Cucurrucucu Paloma
  10. Steward  The Man with the Tiny Hands
  11. Chameleons, The  John, I’m Only Dancing
  12. Sulkowicz, Ted  Kid_Newtown
  13. Mouse on Mars  Stereomission
  14. Sebastian, John  Theme from Welcome Back Kotter
  15. Lil’ Kim  The Jump Off
  16. Mr Projectile  Less Math, More Music
  17. Nilsson, Harry  The Beehive State
  18. Supergrass  Eon


  1. God, that packaging is dead sexy. I was dying to get a better look at it when you first wrote about it. I have to say I want the CD and the packaging more than I want the music on it!

Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.