More than a thousand words

December 13, 2012

The success of endBeginning has been thrilling for us. We’re excited that many people—and not just early music fans—have responded so enthusiastically to what is a rather obscure program of music. Yes, Crecquillon and Clemens deserve to be rescued from obscurity and we’re hopeful that endBeginning boosts their profile. But we also hope that the record turns more people on to Tim Borremans.

© Telefunker

Who is Tim Borremans? Tim Borremans is the photographer behind endBeginning‘s haunting cover image. Tim, who publishes his work under the cryptic moniker Telefunker, is passionate about forgotten, abandoned and derelict structures. And it was a total accident that we found him.

In October 2011, New York Polyphony recorded the music for what was to become endBeginning. Because we were scheduled to sing on The Martha Stewart Show in early December, it was decided that post-production would be accelerated so that the album (in digital form at least) would be available to everyone tuning in. But while the raw audio was “in the can”, we didn’t have an album title, a design concept, photographs… nothing. And while some purists argue otherwise, the look and feel of a CD is as important as the music on it. We had to get this right.

With the clock ticking, we got to work. Email after email was sent back and forth between New York City and the BIS Records design team in Stockholm. We brainstormed. We spit-balled. We tried a lot of different ideas, titles and designs on for size. But none of them stuck.

It all hinged on the cover image. I felt very strongly that the cover needed to capture the prevailing theme of the musical program– hope in despair, sense in senselessness, and comfort in loss. It couldn’t be a place holder– some generic image of a church, or a photo of the four of us posing in front of brick wall looking all moody and mournful. It needed to be honest, an image that told the story. So, as a last ditch effort, I did what many of us do in times of crisis: I prayed at the altar of the internet. I did a Google search.

I don’t remember the exact sequence of keywords, but somehow the magic of cross-referencing lead me to the work of Telefunker, a.k.a. Tim Borremans. It elicited an immediate “Wow!” Each click of the mouse (mouse-pad, actually– I was on a laptop) revealed a new and painfully beautiful image of broken buildings, architectural atrophy and urban ruin. And there, among his many galleries, I found it—the perfect image: a small chapel in an abandoned 19th-century hospital in Belgium.

The texture of the photo (above) is extraordinary. (Every time I return to look at it, I see some new detail.) It somehow manages to be active and motionless all at once– peaceful chaos, so to speak. But it wasn’t the dust and destruction that won me over, it was the light glowing through the window. It’s a beautiful photo. And it was pure luck that I found it at all.

No need to go into the details of how we got a hold of Tim. All that matters is that he graciously allowed us to use the image. From there, the rest of the design, the title, everything, just sort of fell into place.

But HERE’S THE THING: I’m not going to post Tim’s bio or his philosophy or sample pictures. Why? Because you need to go to his site. Seriously, you need to. There you’ll find gallery after gallery of stunning photos taken all over Europe. The settings are haunting and magical and heartbreaking and alien and seemingly impossible. I visit it often and every time it’s like viewing a lost world.

Here are the links. Bookmark them now.
On Flickr:

If you want to follow him on Twitter (we do!) go here:



— CP