A starting point for creating and publishing “Photofantasm” was a single message posted by Chris Cornell on Twitter on New Year’s Eve in 2010. It said: “ The 12-year break is over and school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!”. Delighted and excited fans misinterpreted the tweet as a band’s come back statement after 12 long years of hiatus. In fact, Cornell had only an intention to inform Soundgarden lovers that the band is present in media again. Nevertheless, the group probably had some plans of appearing at least for a few concerts as the Twitter message started a series of different musical events. A true storm came together with a sold out gig played on 16th 2010 in Showbox club in Seattle. To make the story more spicy, the band played it under the name Nudedragons (which was an anagram of Soundgarden) but people quickly discovered the real identity of an artist and about 1000 tickets were sold out in a blink of an eye. This event opened a new chapter in Soundgarden’s history, they soon recorded new material, released it and started touring. And that is where “Photofantasm” begins.
The book itself was an idea that grew up and was put into its final shape by a couple of Soundgarden fans – Mike and Jaye English. They completed a mission of collecting extraordinary materials viewing Soundgarden’s path since 2010 until 2013. If you haven’t seen the book yet – it’s an album, which consists of great, mostly black and white photos of Soundgarden in concerts taken by their fans over these years all around the world. Besides watching the photos, you can also read stories, short reviews or simply few emotional words written by people who were waiting impatiently for the band’s reunion and had a chance to see them live.
The design of the book is unique, the pictures are of a really high quality and the stories are heart-tugging. Everything is put in order, so you get full information of the origin of each photo, you have setlists from the concerts given and there are also reprints of concert posters. It’s a visual masterpiece and an exceptional way to tell the story, as it’s written from the fans’ and not archives’ perspective. You cannot just quickly browse it, it takes time and patience to slowly get to know it page by page. But, I can assure you, you’ll do it with pure delight. Many of the photos are really artistic, capturing moving moments, musical rapture or just the highlights. There are many fans mentioned by their names and among them there is also Tiffany Gross’ name placed. However, her story is told by her husband as Tiffany passed away due to cancer few years ago. But the story is not about her disease but about her strength and her dream which came true in 2013 when Tiffany got her chance to meet Soundgarden in one of their live shows. Great pictures documenting this event are also a part of “Photofantasm”.
Is the book expensive? Yes, objectively it is. But the money is well-spent. You’ll come back to these photos over and over again and it will take much time to read through all the stories. For me, the most touching is obviously the one told by Katarzyna Talewicz, a girl from Poland (as I am for Poland as well) who went to see Soundgarden in Berlin in 2012. During the concert she was holding a Polish flag in her hands and later threw it on stage. The flag was displayed on the drums by Chris Cornell. I can only imagine how she felt at this amazing moment. In “Photofantasm” you will definitely find similar accounts and probably also written by the fans from your countries.
Nevertheless, this special album may remain special only for the fans, an average reader might, of course, appreciate artistic value of the book but rather won’t be moved by it. And, in my opinion, providing people with emotions was one of the aims of publishing “Photofantasm”. But, don’t forget that the target group for the authors were the fans who will definitely be satisfied.
To sum up, if you consider buying the album, you have to ask yourself a question – are you a real “diehard fan” of Soundgarden? If the answer is: “hell, yeah!”, don’t hesitate to spend these 100 dollars as you won’t ever regret it.