25 Years of 4AD - Gig and CD celebrations - Full Details Here - 25 Years of 4AD - Gig and CD celebrations - Full Details
This November, 4AD celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Starting on 17th of November, there will be a series of live performances spread over 10 nights. Highlights include : TV On The Radio playing their only UK show of the year at London's Scala; The Breeders, performing in the beautiful surroundings of Blackheath Halls; Kristin Hersh playing two contrasting shows; and appearances by artists new to the label which are yet to be announced. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.
The full list of shows is :
1980 Forward • November 2005 • London
Thursday 17th November TV On The Radio plus special guests The Scala
Friday 18th November Minotaur Shock & Magnétophone plus special guests The Luminaire
Saturday 19th November The Breeders plus special guests Blackheath Halls (also : an exhibition of the artwork of Vaughan Oliver / v23)
Sunday 20th November The Breeders plus special guests Blackheath Halls (also : an exhibition of the artwork of Vaughan Oliver / v23)
Monday 21st November Kristin Hersh performing the songs of Throwing Muses The Scala
Tuesday 22nd November Kristin Hersh performing songs from Hips And Makers onwards The Scala
Wednesday 23rd November The Mountain Goats plus special guests Bush Hall
Thursday 24th November Celebration plus special guests The Water Rats
Friday 25th November Mojave 3 & Mark Kozelek performing the songs of Red House Painters Conway Hall
Sunday 27th November Blonde Redhead & Johann Johannsson The Scala
To coincide with the shows, 4AD will release a compilation that explores the highways and byways of the label's 25 year history. There will also be a very limited edition "bespoke" version of the compilation, available only from the brand new website at 4ad.com. The site, designed by Vaughan Oliver, is being launched next month; the limited edition compilation will allow fans to choose any selection of tracks from 4AD's catalogue - it will be hand-made for them, and delivered in an exclusive v23 designed sleeve.
Other celebratory projects include a deluxe Cocteau Twins 4 CD box set, and an intriguing release from the label's founder Ivo Watts-Russell, operating under his Hope Blister guise. More details on these soon.
A Brief History of 4AD
"Iconic" is one of those words which is used more often than it ought to be, but if it applies to any record label, surely it applies to 4AD. Like other labels born during the post-punk diaspora (Factory, Postcard, Fast Product), 4AD quickly developed a unique visual identity and a unique position in the musical landscape of the time; unlike them, 4AD is still here, still releasing interesting music in wonderful packaging, and still inspiring devotion in listeners all over the world.
The label was founded in 1980. At the time, Ivo Watts-Russell was overseeing the management of the Beggars Banquet chain of record shops, and constant stream of demos from aspiring bands came with the job. Ivo had been toying with the idea of setting up a label for some time, and the plan came into focus after a conversation with Martin Mills (owner of Beggars Banquet); initially the new label would concentrate on brand new acts and those that were successful would "graduate" to Beggars Banquet - a plan that was quickly abandoned.
The label was christened Axis, but as soon as its first four singles had been pressed Ivo and his partner Peter Kent ran into their first problem - in the shape of a stern letter from another company with the same name. The solution to the problem came from a promotional flyer that Ivo and Peter had printed up to call attention to the new releases. The flyer's designer had added a bit of typography which played on both the new year and the idea of progress:
Early releases from artists like Bauhaus, The Birthday Party and Modern English quickly established 4AD as a vibrant home for atmospheric, intense and artful new music, and the impression that the label was making was reinforced by Modern English's second single for 4AD, "Gathering Dust" which was the first to feature sleeve art by a young graphic designer named Vaughan Oliver. Vaughan, together with the photographer Nigel Grierson, became 23 Envelope - later v23 - and his wonderful designs continue to adorn 4AD releases to this day.
4AD's potent visual identity tends to obscure the sheer range of music that it has released over the years; while the label will remain forever associated with the ambient swirls and fairy-tale vocals of the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, in its first decade it also introduced the world to Bulgarian choral music (courtesy of the Mysteres Des Voix Bulgares compilations), worked at the cutting edge of American underground rock music with Throwing Muses, The Pixies and Red House Painters, and even tasted unlikely pop success when Colourbox and A R Kane collaborated (as M/A/R/R/S) on the groundbreaking house collage "Pump Up The Volume", a UK number one single. Later, after the Breeders had taken the world by storm with "Cannonball" and "The Last Splash", the label could be found releasing rootsy Americana by Tarnation and Mojave 3 and exploring quirky electronica from Iceland's Gus Gus and Birmingham's Magnétophone, as well as enjoying fruitful long-term relationships with artists like Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry (of Dead Can Dance), Kim Deal, Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly, all of whom continue to record for 4AD.
The current 4AD roster now includes the likes of Blonde Redhead, TV On The Radio and the legendary Scott Walker. In November 2005, the label celebrates its 25th anniversary with a series of live shows and other special events. 4AD are still going strong and are still looking forward.