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April 26-May 2, 2006

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'Warp Labels Unlimited'

Warp Labels Unlimited
REVIEW (By Rob Young; Black Dog Press; $29.95 pager; 188 pages)
—Richard von Busack

Sheffield-based Warp Records, pioneered the extreme end of British electronic dance music in the 1990s. As Rob Young puts it it, Warp sent dance music into "total abstraction"; the album titles were often in what Young describes as "an invented or encrypted language"—the dancers and spacers had to peer into the album covers for clues. Did Warp stand for "We Are Reasonable People"? Was the color purple that Warp used in its graphics a symbol of the pre-dawn skies, greeting a crowd leaving a nightclub at 4am? The book's designer, Adrian Shaughnessy, retrieves the 1990s covers: Boards of Canada's chilly landscapes, Autechre's fractal-like shards of color and the frightening grimace of Richard D. James on his Aphex Twin recordings. Warp's mood was playful as well as ominous. The music was the result of primitive computers and hand-distressed DAT tape; Warp's graphics could sometimes be cutesy cartoon Tokyo tots. All that rises (under the influence of drugs) must converge. The book includes discography and biographical info ("Lex Loofah. See Solitaire Gee").


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