WIth today being the last day of the month and also considering the fact that this month signalled the 20th birthday of one of the most respected and well known independent labels in the UK, if not the world. Warp Records. I think it’s only fair that i should have a post to signify this celebration. Founded in 1989 by Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell (who sadly passed away in 2001) the label has shown faith in a lot of more supposedly “leftfield” or awkward acts. Some of their earliest label signings included Nightmares On Wax, Aphex Twin and Autechre. Their main output for the best part of their early years and indeed most of the 90’s was IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) and other electronica type material but in recent years (say about 2000 onwards maybe) they have taken to casting out their net over a wider spectrum and taken on more apparently “indie” bands such as Maximo Park or Grizzly Bear. In 2006 they also released the debut album of one the best live bands i’ve ever seen, Battles. In fact my favourite electronic duo Boards of Canada (sorry MSTRKRFT, don’t worry, i still love you too!) have released pretty much all their material , apart from their really early stuff, on Warp. Some of my other favourite artists on Warp include Flying Lotus, Andrew Weatherall/Two Lone Swordsmen, Squarepusher and Luke Vibert.
Warp have also branched out and set up a few sublabels. Lex Records, Gift Records and Arcola. Gift Records was predominantly set up for “indie” music more than electronica and is reasonably famous for originally having signed up Pulp before they made the jump to Island Records and stardom. Whereas Lex Records roster includes Neon Neon, Boom Bip, Heartbreak and more. Thats 3 seriously good electronic artists/bands right there if you ask me. Arcola meanwhile is more disco/dance orientated and remains fairly underground, one of the more well known acts being Brothomstates (who i hear you say).
The label has also made the leap into more cinematic waters with the set up of Warp Films in 1999. Warp Films, along with Chris Cunningham, were responsible for the infamous Aphex Twin “Come To Daddy” and “Windowlicker” videos among many other music videos by various other Warp artists. They also released the Arctic Monkeys short film “Scummy Man” and gave a release to the Chris Morris directed “My Wrongs”, a film about a man who talks to a dog. Some of the more famous features on Warp Films come from director Shane Meadows. The label has released both his “Dead Mans Shoes” and “This Is England” movies.
Warp have also released a number of music and video compilations and a special AI series over the years. They also now have a digital download store (http://bleep.com/) which originally started off as Warp only releases but has expanded to include other artist in recent years. There’s also a book, simply called “Warp”, which includes an in-depth look at all aspects of the label and a full discography.
So all in all going into their 20th year, Warp aren’t looking too bad at all. From day one they’ve released music and videos from eclectic artists the world over, branched into films, digital downloading whilst all the while keeping faith in the sounds they love just as much as we do.
Here’s just some of the sounds Warp has given us over the years…
So to one of my favourite labels i’ll say,
Happy Birthday Warp. Here’s to another Twenty.
S.I.T Wolf X