This 4AD article was written by Nick Palmer, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited my Nick Roseblade
Who (or what):One of the longest running British independent labels. Established in 1979/80 by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent.
Where is it from?: Well in a literal sense, 4AD is from and still based in London. But, in a more figurative sense, it comes from the musical obsession and peculiar tastes of Watts-Russell.
Who does it sound like?: Well, a record label is what it puts out, so it sounds like all of this. However, to be a bit more helpful, in the 1980s, it was Cocteau Twins who were cited as defining the ‘4AD sound’ – lush, but ethereal instrumentation, overlaid with siren-like vocals. 4AD can also have a harder, alternative sound, courtesy of Pixies, Xmal Deutschland and The Breeders.
Songs to get you started: ‘Sugar Hiccup’ – Cocteau Twins, ‘Wave of Mutilation’ – Pixies, ‘Song to the Siren’ – This Mortal Coil, ‘I Melt With You’ – Modern English, ‘Earthquake’ – Deerhunter, ‘A Way to Say Goodbye’ – Pixx.
What is it doing now?: Amazingly, still putting out brilliant record after brilliant record from a roster of fantastic artists; Deerhunter, Tune-Yards, The National, EL VY, U.S. Girls, to name a few.
Famed (and strange) film director, David Lynch was reportedly obsessed with ‘Song to the Siren’ by This Mortal Coil and originally wanted it and singer Elizabeth Fraser to appear in his cult classic, Blue Velvet.
4AD employed graphic artist Vaughan Oliver to do the artwork for most of its bands’ releases throughout the 1980s and 1990s. This gave this era of 4AD a very distinctive look as well as sound.