4AD

4AD

Profile:
The influential 4AD label was started in 1980 by music enthusiasts Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent with financial help from Beggars Banquet, whose record store chain the pair worked for.

Originally calling their label Axis, they released an initial series of four 7" singles before finding out that the name Axis was already being used by another label. Having to quickly come up with a new name, the partners noticed the following bit of typography that their graphic designer had put on a flyer announcing the Axis releases:

1980 FORWARD
1980 FWD
1984 AD
4AD

Kent left 4AD after a year and started another Beggars-affiliated label, Situation Two.

Under Ivo Watts-Russell's guidance, drawing influence from other UK indie labels such as Beggars Banquet, Postcard Records and Factory, 4AD quickly established a unique identity thanks to both the cover designs of Vaughan Oliver/v23 and the label's unique numbering system.

In 1992, 4AD entered a highly publicized Stateside distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records, opening offices in New York headed up by Robin Hurley. Watts-Russell moved to Los Angeles in the mid 90s resulting in the label being largely been run from California for the rest of that decade. Ivo sold 4AD in the late 90s, although his influence remained apparent for years after. In November 1999 it was announced that, following the departure of Hurley as label chief, Beggars Group's chairman Martin Mills had taken the opportunity to relocate its HQ to London and install a new label head, former Beggars head of press Chris Sharp. Sharp was joined by former Mantra Recordings A&R man Ed Horrox.

Sharp was ousted from his role as MD by the Beggars Group management in April 2008. Simon Halliday, ex-Warp Records US, took over as MD. His first move was to "retire" fellow Beggars Group labels Too Pure and Beggars Banquet - key artists on the defunct imprints were transferred onto the new expanded 4AD.

Decoding the unique numbering system…
The alphabetic part indicates the format:

4AD - Mail-order only releases
AXIS - The Axis 7" singles
AD - 7" single
BAD - 12"/CD single and EP (generally up to four songs, although some have more)
CAD - LP
DAD - Double LP
EAD - MP3 download
FAD - Poster edition
GAD - Originally used for a series of re-issues that came out in 1998 under the promotional title "The Perfect Antidote", it has since been used for subsequent reissues, mid-priced reissues & remastered editions
HAD - Used only once, for the UK reissue of Matt Johnson/The The's "Burning Blue Soul"
JAD - Used for three mini-album releases
MAD - Mini-album (generally more than four songs)
PAD - Postcard Set
TAD - Temporary releases (i.e. those that have only one pressing)
VAD - Video
WAD - Postcard Set
XAD - Poster Set or Calendar

The letters CD appended indicate a compact disc, and the letter C appears in between the prefix and the catalog number on a cassette (ie: CAD C 809 for the cassette version of CAD 809). An appended D indicates a double or special limited release, and an R indicates a remix single/EP.

For promo releases and a few other oddities, the alphabetic part is quite often an abbreviation of the band's name, and the numbers are sequential across promos by that band.

As for the numeric portion:
* In 1980, releases were simply numbered sequentially. The AXIS numbers took up 1 through 4 (with AXIS3 being reissued as AD3), and the 4AD numbering took over with 5.
* From 1981 through 1989, the numbers became three digits, with the first digit representing the year and the other two being a sequential number for the year. For example, the first release in 1981 is numbered "101", the twelfth release in 1984 is "412", etc.
* From 1990 to 1999, the numbers became four digits, with the first digit again representing the year. So the first release in 1990 was "0001", the sixth in 1997 was "7006", etc.
* In 2000, the first two digits of the number became "2K", with the other two digits being the usual sequential number.
* From 2001 on, the first digit has been "2", the second has represented the year, and the last two have been sequential. So the first release in 2002 was "2201", the 11th in 2003 was "2311", etc.
* From 2010 on, the first digit has been "3", the second has represented the year, and the least two have been sequential. So it's "3101" for the first release of 2011, and so on.

Labelcode: LC 5807 / LC 05807

Also referred to as:
- 4•A•D
- 4.A.D.

See 4AD Ltd. for legal entity.

Licensed, marketed and distributed by Rough Trade Records GmbH in Germany (1993).
Sublabels
Parent Label:
Contact Info:
UK office:
4AD
17-19 Alma Road
London, SW18 1AA
United Kingdom

[email protected]

US office:
4AD
625 Broadway, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10012
USA
Sites:

Label

Releases

Status Catalog Number  Image Artist Title ( Format) Label Catalog Number  Country Year Actions
Throwing Muses - Red Heaven Throwing Muses Red Heaven(CD, Album) 4AD Europe 1992 Sell This Version
1AMP The Amps - Bragging Party The Amps Bragging Party 1AMP UK 1995 Sell This Version
1GA-0380-1 Cocteau Twins - Iceblink Luck Cocteau Twins Iceblink Luck(7", Single) Grabaciones Accidentales 1GA-0380-1 Spain 1990 Sell This Version
2A-62766 The Breeders - Title TK The Breeders Title TK(CD, Album, Promo) 4AD, Elektra 2A-62766 US 2002 Sell This Version
2GA-0380/1 Cocteau Twins - Iceblink Luck Cocteau Twins Iceblink Luck(12", Maxi) GASA 2GA-0380/1 Spain 1990 Sell This Version
2GA-0380/1 R Cocteau Twins - Iceblink Luck Cocteau Twins Iceblink Luck(12", Maxi, RE) 4AD 2GA-0380/1 R Spain 2016 Sell This Version
4AD Deerhunter Microcastle / Weird Era Continued(2xLP, Album, Ltd, Whi) 4AD 4AD France 2014 Sell This Version
4AD0001CD Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field (Album) 4AD0001CD Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0001CDJ Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field (CD, Album) 4AD, Beat Records 4AD0001CDJ Japan 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0001LP Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field (Album) 4AD0001LP USA & Canada 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0001LPX Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field (LP, Album, Ltd, Whi) 4AD, 4AD 4AD0001LPX Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0001MC Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field(Cass, Album, Cle) 4AD 4AD0001MC US 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0001MX Future Islands - The Far Field Future Islands The Far Field(12xFile, MP3) 4AD 4AD0001MX UK 2017
4AD0002CD Pixx (2) - The Age Of Anxiety Pixx (2) The Age Of Anxiety (Album) 4AD0002CD UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0002LP Pixx (2) - The Age Of Anxiety Pixx (2) The Age Of Anxiety(LP, Album) 4AD 4AD0002LP UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0002LPE Pixx (2) - The Age Of Anxiety Pixx (2) The Age Of Anxiety(LP, Album, Ran) 4AD 4AD0002LPE UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0006DS Future Islands - Ran Future Islands Ran(File, AAC, Single, 256) 4AD 4AD0006DS UK 2017
4AD0007CD John Moreland - Big Bad Luv John Moreland Big Bad Luv(CD, Album) 4AD 4AD0007CD UK & US 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0007LP John Moreland - Big Bad Luv John Moreland Big Bad Luv(LP, Album, Gat) 4AD 4AD0007LP US 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0008CD Aldous Harding - Party Aldous Harding Party (Album) 4AD0008CD Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0008CDJP Aldous Harding - Party Aldous Harding Party(CD, Album) 4AD 4AD0008CDJP Japan 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0008LP Aldous Harding - Party Aldous Harding Party (Album) 4AD0008LP Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0008LPRT Aldous Harding - Party Aldous Harding Party(LP, Album, Ltd, Whi) 4AD 4AD0008LPRT UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0008LPX Aldous Harding - Party Aldous Harding Party(LP, Album, Ltd + 7", S/Sided, Single) 4AD 4AD0008LPX Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0009CD Sufjan Stevens • Nico Muhly • Bryce Dessner • James McAlister - Planetarium Sufjan StevensNico MuhlyBryce DessnerJames McAlister Sufjan StevensNico MuhlyBryce DessnerJames McAlister - Planetarium (Album) 4AD0009CD Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0009LP Sufjan Stevens • Nico Muhly • Bryce Dessner • James McAlister - Planetarium Sufjan StevensNico MuhlyBryce DessnerJames McAlister Sufjan StevensNico MuhlyBryce DessnerJames McAlister - Planetarium (Album) 4AD0009LP USA, Canada & Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0016DA Colin Newman - Not To Colin Newman Not To(12xFile, MP3, Album, RE, RM, 320) 4AD 4AD0016DA UK Unknown
4AD0019S The National - The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness / Guilty Party The National The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness / Guilty Party (Single) 4AD0019S USA & Canada 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0020CD The National - Sleep Well Beast The National Sleep Well Beast (Album) 4AD0020CD Australia 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0020CDJP The National - Sleep Well Beast The National Sleep Well Beast(2xCD, Album) Beat Records, 4AD 4AD0020CDJP Japan 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0020CDT The National - Sleep Well Beast The National Sleep Well Beast(CD, Album, Tar) 4AD 4AD0020CDT US 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0020LP The National - Sleep Well Beast The National Sleep Well Beast (Album) 4AD0020LP UK & Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0020LPE The National - Sleep Well Beast The National Sleep Well Beast (Album) 4AD0020LPE USA & Canada 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0022CD Torres (2) - Three Futures Torres (2) Three Futures (Album) 4AD0022CD UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0022LP Torres (2) - Three Futures Torres (2) Three Futures (Album) 4AD0022LP UK & Europe 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0022LPE2 Torres (2) - Three Futures Torres (2) Three Futures(LP, Album, Club, Ltd, Num, Blu) 4AD 4AD0022LPE2 US 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0033T The Lemon Twigs - Brothers Of Destruction The Lemon Twigs Brothers Of Destruction(12", EP) 4AD 4AD0033T UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0035CD The Breeders - All Nerve The Breeders All Nerve (Album) 4AD0035CD US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0035CDJP The Breeders - All Nerve The Breeders All Nerve(CD, Album) 4AD, Beat Records 4AD0035CDJP Japan 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0035DA The Breeders - All Nerve The Breeders All Nerve(11xFile, MP3, Album, 320) 4AD 4AD0035DA 2018
4AD0035LP The Breeders - All Nerve The Breeders All Nerve (Album) 4AD0035LP US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0035LPE The Breeders - All Nerve The Breeders All Nerve (Album, Single) 4AD0035LPE 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0036S1 The Breeders - Wait In The Car The Breeders Wait In The Car(7", Single, Ltd, Ora) 4AD 4AD0036S1 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0036S2 The Breeders - Wait In The Car The Breeders Wait In The Car(7", Single, Ltd, Red) 4AD 4AD0036S2 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0036S3 The Breeders - Wait In The Car The Breeders Wait In The Car(7", Single, Ltd, Yel) 4AD 4AD0036S3 2017 Sell This Version
4AD 0037 CDP Torres (2) - Three Futures Torres (2) Three Futures(CD, Single, Promo) 4AD 4AD 0037 CDP UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0038 Daughter (2) - Music From Before The Storm Daughter (2) Music From Before The Storm(13xFile, ALAC, Album) 4AD 4AD0038 Europe 2017
4AD0038DA Daughter (2) - Music From Before The Storm Daughter (2) Music From Before The Storm(13xFile, WAV, Album, 24b) 4AD 4AD0038DA Europe 2017
4AD 0038LP Daughter (2) - Music From Before The Storm Daughter (2) Music From Before The Storm(2xLP, Album, Ltd, Cle) 4AD 4AD 0038LP Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0046 U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited (Album) 4AD0046 US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD00046CD U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited (Album) 4AD00046CD US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0046DA U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited(11xFile, MP3, Album, 320) 4AD 4AD0046DA Europe 2018
4AD0049DS Bing & Ruth* - Dorsal EP Bing & Ruth* Dorsal EP(3xFile, MP3, EP, 320) 4AD 4AD0049DS UK 2017
4AD 0052CD Tune-Yards - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life Tune-Yards I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life(CD, Album) 4AD 4AD 0052CD UK 2018 Sell This Version
4AD 0052LP Tune-Yards - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life Tune-Yards I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life(LP, Album) 4AD 4AD 0052LP US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD 0052LPE Tune-Yards - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life Tune-Yards I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (Album) 4AD 0052LPE UK 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0055CDP Aldous Harding - Live At KEXP Aldous Harding Live At KEXP(CD, EP) 4AD 4AD0055CDP UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD0055TE Aldous Harding - Live At KEXP Aldous Harding Live At KEXP(12", EP, Ltd) 4AD 4AD0055TE UK 2017 Sell This Version
4AD 0069 CD Rema-Rema - Fond Reflections Rema-Rema Fond Reflections(2xCD, Album, Comp) 4AD, 4AD 4AD 0069 CD UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4 AD0069DA Rema-Rema - Fond Reflections Rema-Rema Fond Reflections(17xFile, FLAC, Album) 4AD 4 AD0069DA 2020
4AD 0069 LP Rema-Rema - Fond Reflections Rema-Rema Fond Reflections (Album) 4AD 0069 LP Europe 2019 Sell This Version
4AD 0070 CD Gene Clark - No Other Gene Clark No Other (Album) 4AD 0070 CD USA & Europe 2019 Sell This Version
4AD 0070 CDX Gene Clark - No Other || No Other Sessions {I} Gene Clark No Other || No Other Sessions {I}(Dlx, Har + CD, Album, RM + CD, Album) 4AD 4AD 0070 CDX UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD 0070 LP Gene Clark - No Other Gene Clark No Other(LP, Album, RE) 4AD 4AD 0070 LP Worldwide 2019 Sell This Version
4AD 0070 MXX Gene Clark - No Other Gene Clark No Other(LP, Album, RE, RM, Sil + 7", RM + SACD, Album, RE,) 4AD, 4AD, 4AD 4AD 0070 MXX UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD 0071 MXX Gene Clark - No Other Gene Clark No Other(LP, Album, RE, RM, Sil + 7", RM + SACD, Hybrid, Al) 4AD 4AD 0071 MXX UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0077CD The National - Boxer (Live In Brussels) The National Boxer (Live In Brussels)(CD, Album) 4AD 4AD0077CD USA & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0077CDJP The National - Boxer (Live In Brussels) The National Boxer (Live In Brussels)(CD, Album) 4AD, Beat Records 4AD0077CDJP Japan 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0077DA The National - Boxer Live In Brussels The National Boxer Live In Brussels(12xFile, FLAC, Album) 4AD 4AD0077DA 2018
4AD0077LPE The National - Boxer (Live In Brussels) The National Boxer (Live In Brussels)(LP, Album, Ltd, Cle) 4AD 4AD0077LPE USA, Canada & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0079CD Gang Gang Dance - Kazuashita Gang Gang Dance Kazuashita (Album) 4AD0079CD Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0079CDJP Gang Gang Dance - Kazuashita Gang Gang Dance Kazuashita (Album) 4AD0079CDJP Japan 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0079LP Gang Gang Dance - Kazuashita Gang Gang Dance Kazuashita(LP, Album, Red) 4AD 4AD0079LP US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD 0082T SOHN - Hue / Nil SOHN Hue / Nil(12", Single) 4AD 4AD 0082T 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0084CD Pixies - Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa Pixies Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa(CD, MiniAlbum, RE + CD, Album, RE + CD + Comp) 4AD 4AD0084CD USA, Canada & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0084LP Pixies - Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa Pixies Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa(LP, MiniAlbum, RE, Gol + LP, Album, RE, Gol + LP, ) 4AD 4AD0084LP USA, Canada & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0084LPX Pixies - Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa Pixies Come On Pilgrim... It's Surfer Rosa(LP, EP, RE, Cle + LP, Album, RE, Cle + LP, Cle + B) 4AD 4AD0084LPX USA, Canada & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0089CD Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (Album) 4AD0089CD US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0089CDJP Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?(CD, Album) Beat Records, 4AD 4AD0089CDJP Japan 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0089DA Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?(10xFile, FLAC, Album, 16b) 4AD 4AD0089DA 2019
4AD0089LP Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (Album) 4AD0089LP UK & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0090MC Deerhunter - Double Dream Of Spring Deerhunter Double Dream Of Spring(Cass, Ltd, Num) 4AD 4AD0090MC USA & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0092DS The National - Fake Empire (Live In Brussels) The National Fake Empire (Live In Brussels)(File, MP3, Single, 320) 4AD 4AD0092DS 2018
4AD0094CD The Lemon Twigs - Go To School The Lemon Twigs Go To School(CD, Album) 4AD 4AD0094CD Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0094CDJP The Lemon Twigs - Go To School The Lemon Twigs Go To School (Album) 4AD0094CDJP Japan 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0094LP The Lemon Twigs - Go To School The Lemon Twigs Go To School (Album) 4AD0094LP Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0094LPX The Lemon Twigs - Go To School The Lemon Twigs Go To School(2xLP, Album + 7", Ltd + Dlx) 4AD, 4AD, 4AD 4AD0094LPX USA & Europe 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0102CD Aldous Harding - Designer Aldous Harding Designer (Album) 4AD0102CD UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0102CDJP Aldous Harding - Designer Aldous Harding Designer(CD, Album) 4AD, Beat Records 4AD0102CDJP Japan 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0102LP Aldous Harding - Designer Aldous Harding Designer (Album) 4AD0102LP UK, Europe & US 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0102LPX Aldous Harding - Designer Aldous Harding Designer(LP, Album, Ltd, Gol) 4AD, 4AD 4AD0102LPX USA & Canada 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0110T The Breeders - Safari The Breeders Safari (EP) 4AD0110T USA & Canada 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0113S Tune-Yards / U.S. Girls - Coast To Coast (U.S. Girls Remix) / Velvet For Sale (Tune-Yards Remix) Tune-Yards / U.S. Girls Tune-Yards / U.S. Girls - Coast To Coast (U.S. Girls Remix) / Velvet For Sale (Tune-Yards Remix)(7", Ltd) 4AD 4AD0113S US 2018 Sell This Version
4AD0114CD Methyl Ethel - Triage Methyl Ethel Triage(CD, Album, Gat) 4AD 4AD0114CD UK 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0114CDJP Methyl Ethel - Triage Methyl Ethel Triage(CD, Album) 4AD, Beat Records 4AD0114CDJP Japan 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0114LP Methyl Ethel - Triage Methyl Ethel Triage(LP, Album, Bla) 4AD 4AD0114LP UK 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0118DS2 Grimes (4) Feat. Hana* - We Appreciate Power Grimes (4) Feat. Hana* Grimes (4) Feat. Hana* - We Appreciate Power(2xFile, FLAC, Single) 4AD 4AD0118DS2 2019
4AD0120DS Deerhunter - Death In Midsummer Deerhunter Death In Midsummer(File, MP3, Single, 320) 4AD 4AD0120DS UK & US 2018
4AD0121CD Beirut - Gallipoli Beirut Gallipoli (Album) 4AD0121CD Europe 2019 Sell This Version
4AD0121CDJP Beirut - Gallipoli Beirut Gallipoli (Album) 4AD0121CDJP Japan 2019 Sell This Version

Add Review

japanjimi

japanjimi

February 23, 2022
I grew up in the 1980s and 4AD was (for myself) the best label out there. Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Wolfgang Press then later on came Throwing Muses and Pixies. Great music and great artwork. I felt the label died during the 90s as it lost its soul but the memories I have will remain with me forever. Thanks Ivo.
spearheaded

spearheaded

August 31, 2020
40 years of 4AD! Marked this now, so I don't have to wait for another ten years.
maxal

maxal

June 27, 2020
4AD 40th Anniversary Sampler; 4AD0139CDJ, released 2019
TRACKLIST:

1 The Birthday Party, Release the Bats (1981)
2 Cocteau Twins, Lorelei (1984)
3 Pixies Debaser, (1989)
4 The Breeders, Cannonball (1993)
5 This Mortal Coil, You and Your Sister (1991)
6 Red House Painters, Mistress (1993)
7 Atlas Sound, Walkabout (2009)
8 The National, Bloodbuzz Ohio (2010)
9 Deerhunter, Nosebleed (2011)
10 Gang Gang Dance, MindKilla (2011)
11 Tune-Yards, Bizness (2011)
12 Ariel Pink, Baby (2012)
13 Purity Ring, Belispeak (2012)
14 Daughter, Youth (2012)
15 Grimes, Oblivion (2012)
16 The Lemon Twigs, These Words (2016)
17 Pixx, I Bow Down (2017)
18 Aldous Harding, Imagining My Man (2017)
19 U.S. Girls, Mad as Hell (2018)

[Presumably all deemed highlights from the 4AD catalogue?]
maxal

maxal

June 26, 2020
edited over 2 years ago
I wrote this about the 4AD 40th anniversary sampler (4AD0139CDJ), but I am putting it here as well as it says something about the difference in 4AD music quality and aspirations pre-millennium, compared to 4AD output from 2000 onwards -----> Regarding labels, who cares right? Of course we should appreciate the bands individually. However, 4AD in the Eighties was a very strong label which you could rely on and like pretty much everything. Now?

This sampler is OK, but 40th anniversary? I certainly expected a lot better from 4AD. This selection is even a bit samey, something you could never say about 4AD pre-millennium. And it heavily leans toward 2009-2012 for some reason, with about half the tracks from these three years (a joke when you are looking at forty years of the 4AD powerhouse). You'd expect those selections to SHINE - come on you only have to pick one single track from each group - in the Eighties you'd be stuck for choice, too many great tracks.

Also the most recent 4AD catalogue is under-represented with one track each for 2016 and 2018 and two tracks from 2017. In other words there are four tracks out of a nineteen track album for the years 2013-2019. You'd expect some favouritism with the newer bands, but not with this antholgy - again too much 2011/2012. Why such shocking bias? And to create a finished product which is so lack lustre? So it made me think about the quality of 4AD's musical output from decade to decade - the beauty of the music itself and its influence on other bands and strictly on how 4AD chose this selection on this 40th anniversary sampler to reflect 4AD's four decades of their music.

It would have been good to witness a bit more creativity with the Eighties selection. 3 x tracks for the whole of the 4AD Eighties - giggle, this is an astounding period of musical creativity for 4AD. Why not have Liz Fraser's Love Insane with Dif Juz? One of the most beautiful of 4AD tracks seemingly lost to time. 4AD chose something a bit more typical to represent Liz's voice: safe I guess.

I remember when the 4AD samplers (anthologies) used to be an adventure, an exciting choice of music with a huge range of music, much of it by pioneering groups which would continue to define whole new genres. The 4AD Eighties groups shone like diamonds with strong punk (Bauhaus, Birthday Party, Xmal Deutschland), groovy pop (Colourbox, Frazier Chorus, Xymox), things not easily put into genres, Modern English, Cocteau Twins, Wolfgang Press, Dead Can Dance, Pale Saints. And some one-off gems like Richenel's L'Esclave . . . and Mortal Coil to dismantle and reassemble brilliantly.

Slowly the latter part of the Eighties brought in America - Pixies, Throwing Muses and all the offshoots. Of course they were great. I loved the 1st eponymous Throwing Muses album and the first Pixies EP, and continued to listen to the groups' work; but did their next albums really progress that much? Also, they seemed to herald a heavier rock influence, a more mainstream influence which would dominate and swipe away the extaordinary breadth of the magical 4AD sound.

New groups or solo artists still came along on 4AD. Vinnie Miller, wonderful, exciting and new - not on this anthology. Lo-Fang (again, not on this collection). Scott Walker, of course, not a 4AD discovery, but why not on this collection? Whatever (sigh), who knows what 4AD are up to . . . of course music has to change, we can't stay stuck in the Eighties, but if you notice, that is exactly what I am saying: the last two decades of music on 4AD DOES NOT represent change. The pre-millennium 4AD music is still more daring than the new 4AD.

And that, if anything, is what is interesting about this 40 year 4AD anthology: the anthology reveals in a rather opaque manner what has happened to 4AD in its 40-lifespan; but more bizarrely, its slow progress with some alternative American music. 4AD still retains some interest, but as a label it's lost a lot of its original BANG and seems to want to repress the better part of its history. If you are seeking something a bit different in the current 4AD catalogue, highlights are perhaps Deerhunter, Ariel PInk and Grimes (Canadian) with a bit more variety, but I do wonder about their final results.

I have obviously thought this for a while, til now refraining from writing what I have just laid down. This 4AD anthology seems like something uncaringly swept from a dustpan, rather than the celebration it should have been. I know . . . these are all creative musicians, I shouldn't be so mean with my criticism. Don't take it from this 'rant' that I dislike these bands, there is much to enjoy in these groups. But like the unwanted teacher's comment: "could do better", and a shame it had to happen to 4AD. The selection, unfortunately reflects a lack of overall vision, more of a downward progress, and perhaps with a better selection 4AD could have disguised the slope more.

I do get bored, I get bored, In the flat field. I dare you . . . The pangs of dark delight.
alexlad

alexlad

November 16, 2013
edited 3 months ago
4AD had a strong impact upon me. Suffice it to say that significant part (well, best part) of my collection are the label's releases. Indeed, 4AD is "the perfect antidote", as one of its fan-sites is called.
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