of music. but they all have the same maverick spirit.~
Warp is a tnagnet for musicians with a wayward spirit. It is no coincidence that Tortoise. Chicago’s pioneers of what is now noosed as ‘post-rock‘. released their last album on the label. Most telling was an album by that televisual pariah Chris Brass live Morris. Blue .Ium was a record born of mutual appreciation: Morris used Aphex Twin. Autechre and other acts as the soundtrack to his Radio I sketch show: Warp returned the favour.
Beckett sums up the attitude: 'lt’s like the listener says to the musician: "You can‘t do that." and they're like: “Yes I can." And they do it again and again and again until you get used to it and then you realise how brilliant it is.‘
It might be a diverse attraction now. but originally Warp was born to bleep. Beckett and co-founder Rob Mitchell were self-
confessed indie kids who became fascinated by the house sound of
Chicago and the early techno from Detroit. They opened Warp Records. the shop. in central Sheffield in 1987 with money from Beckett‘s job in the area’s declining mining industry. It was a success. The label came two years later and. riding on the crest of the acid house wave. had a top 40 hit with ‘Ll‘()' by l.l:().
As acid house died. Warp began to move away from the dancefloor and caught the imagination of indie kids and dance freaks alike with its distinctive array of acts (Black Dog. LFO. Aphex Twin. Autechre) and its .‘lrIi/ieiul Intelligenee compilation series which rejected the insular white label elitism endorsed by most dance music. It also backed early releases from now— established names such as Richie Hawtin. David Holmes and Andrew Weatherall.
This community spirit grew and grew and. over the last thirteen years. Warp’s musical scope has broadened to include Scandinavian keyboard virtuosos (limi Tenor). live urban blues- funk bands (Red Snapper) and experimental rappers (Anti-Pop Consortium). as well as legions of pushing-it-to—the-limit- electronica-artists (Mira Calx. Plone. Boards Of Canada).
The Magic Bus tour takes its inspiration from the label's most tragic event. Co-founder Rob Mitchell died of cancer in October last year. The label had always been a close-knit community. but Mitchell’s death changed Beckett's thinking about how it should be run. 'After Rob died it brought home what was important.‘ he says. 'That kind of thing makes you see how things have got to
maker Chris Cunningham to graft his
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‘Come To Daddy’ and ‘Windowlicker’.
Warp are a fixture on MTV.
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Two reclusive young men from Scotland
release an album of outstanding beauty and
wonder. They call themselves Boards Of
Canada and the album Music Has The Right To
Children numbers among the best records
ever put out on the label.
change. More than ever. we just wanted to do something for the hell of it. liverything is so preconceived and contrived — sponsored by Accurist with bloody (iuinness logos everywhere — so it was good to do it just because we can.’
And they have. Beckett. the rest of the Warp office and as many artists on the roster as they could pick up on the way are heading out for beautiful places in all manner of countries. 'We did it kind of like they did in the (i()s. whether it‘s Ken Kesey or the Beatles‘ Magical Mystery tour: do it and see what happens.‘
When the bus pulls up to (ilasgow School of Art. having visited Hamburg. Berlin. Munich. Vienna. Rome. Barcelona and Paris. the main attraction will be Plaid. lauded for what was once described as ‘candy floss techno‘. Their playful beats will contrast with Richard Divine‘s acerbic. dense thumps and Chris Clark's glitchy rumbles. But don‘t forget. there‘ll be others here for the ride.
The artists on the Warp roster have one other thing in common: an ability to harness the power of electronics and give it emotion. Be it the pastoral soundscapes of the label's current press darlings. Boards Of Canada. or the organic crumbling of Autechre. this is music that might be faceless. but has personality. ‘That‘s why it‘s so hard to make great electronic music.’ says Beckett. 'lt's being able to transcend using the machines. You put it down and it‘s like creating their world in your space. directly connecting. It's like saying to the listener: "This is how we hear and feel our world to be: do you wanna spend an hour in it?”
Meeting Beckett only confirms the suspicion I had after listening to lots and lots of records released on Warp over the last thirteen years: he and his comrades are very nice people. they like putting out quite tremendous music that draws you in. makes you smile and even makes you frightened. 'We like fucking with people's heads. confounding their expectations and having a laugh] says Beckett with glee. .\'ot a bad way to work. is it'.’
The Warp Magic Bus Tour pulls into Glasgow School of Art, Fri 31 May.
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notion of a comedy record. A record to,delight and disturb in equal measure. Perfectly suited
releases three double-CD compilations of its
work Blue Jam, a compilation of Chris Morris’ Radio
and Stereolab are among those proud to do so. sketches, adds a whole new meaning to the
To celebrate its tenth birthday, the label