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Minimalist cover could provoke maximum debate

THIS is the artwork that millions of adoring U2 fans will own when it appears on the cover of their new album, and it's their most minimalist yet.

It is also the first time the band members have been absent from the cover of their own album since 1993's 'Zooropa'.

The man behind the intriguing photo is Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, who is renowned for his meticulous attention to detail and a reliance on tones of black, white and grey.

The photo reflects the name of the new album, 'No Line on the Horizon', representing an image of the sea meeting the sky.

The band added their own two mysterious blocks of colour floating above and below the horizon, which some suggest are an 'equals' sign.

U2 have always taken their album artwork seriously, but the cover of their last offering, 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb', which featured a photo of the band with red and white stripes, received a lukewarm reception when released in 2004.

It was a long way from the iconic cover of their fifth album 'The Joshua Tree'. Long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn's moody black and white shots of the band against the backdrop of the Mojave Desert defined U2's image as they grew into one of the biggest acts in the world.

That album cover sent many die-hard U2 fans out on pilgrimages to find the unusual looking Joshua tree pictured. The tree itself has long-since died, and has been replaced with a plaque which asks: "Have you found what you're looking for?"

Whether this album cover reaches the legendary status of 'The Joshua Tree' is yet to be seen, but it will certainly provoke some thought.

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