The entire staff of WARP RECORDS have jumped on a bus for a European tour. Berlin. Paris. Rome. The lot. Why? Oh, just for the hell of it. Words: Mark Robertson

celebrating the genius of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. two of the most infamous names on his label. Warp Records.

Warp is a record label. yes. but not a normal one. It might be known primarily as the home of quality electronic music. but it also signs eccentric actors for solo musical adventures. it releases five- record. l()in LP box sets and it makes promotional kaleidoscopes for albums. To top it all. it packs tip for a trip round liurope in a frighteningly Cliff Richardian

Summer Hulitlu_\'—sty'le fashion. And stranger still. it does all this and still manages to put out really

great records. Go figure. Being a maverick can be both a blessing and a curse. When Warp admits to putting out ‘difficult‘ music. many people think only of noodly bedroom boffins. And you can‘t

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First release on Warp the record label: ‘Track With No Name’ by Forgemasters. Rob and Steve A&R their label by running down from the upstairs office to pick up on anything rattling through the floor that they liked. Aci house mania sweeps the country.

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ou listen to it and think: “Who the fuck dreamed this stuff up?“ Steve Beckett is

synonymous with pioneering the ‘bleep’ sound

‘LFO’ by LFO becomes the label’s first chart of acid house.

hi Straight in at 33. Warp becomes

deny it has its share of them (the aforementioned Aphex Twin for one). Btit to take such a view is only to scratch the veneer of the multi-headed beast that is Warp. a label responsible for some of the fittest music difficult or otherwise of the past decade.

I am secreted in the corner of a faceless theme pub in central London. Warp co-founder Steve Beckett is. oddly enough. waxing lyrical about his days in Sheffield punk bands and how ahead of their time goth troubadours the Sisters Of Mercy were. "They sounded like My Bloody Valentine-meets—the-Velvet Under- ground and they used drum machines years before everyone else did.‘ he says.

A fair point. I agree. perilously exposing my own teen goth obsession. while starting to realise the reason for Warp’s stealthy success. It‘s because Beckett loves nothing more than a spot of visionary rebellion. The Warp remit is an expansive one. something Beckett cherishes. but it is also infused with a belief in the unexpected. ‘Originally when we started Warp. we were just trying to copy these labels from America doing house music.‘ he says. ‘Over time we‘ve expanded and I like the diversity of artists on the label: having Vincent Gallo. a band like Broadcast and hip hop like Anti-Pop Consortium means there‘s a strong cross-section

Act which


Ever. The press go mental I Just

Clonk’s Coming by Sweet Exorcist is the first LP on


t the Cr effectively outlawed congregating enmasse,

especially to dance.

entirely non-repeti ive beats in direct protest agains

Canadian techno pioneer Richie Hawtin and a young lad from Cornwall under the name of Polygon Window: his actual name is Richard D. James. As the Aphex Twin, James becomes the single most cited and lauded act in

Prime releases include Brit debuts for Autechre release ‘Anti’, a track made of

electron for him.

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