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View Full Version : Tale of 2 labels: WARP and XL.



Woebot
08-11-2004, 09:21 AM
These two seem to have dominated the independent scene for what seems like forever, both scooping up red hot "breakthrough" artists and bringing them to a wider audience.

XL seems to go from strength to strength, picking up Dizzy was a great move, and I hope they don't give up on Grime just because Wiley pulled out of his deal (seems like he needed to be a bit more realistic about his size as an artist/talent?) Actually it looks like if he'd put the current Roll Deep material out under XL he'd have done as well as Dizzy did.

WARP on the other hand seems to be losing it's lustre. They seems to miss trick after trick, both the Position Normal and Junior Boys seemed to be tailor-made for WARP, both of which they let go by. They've put out feeble Anti-Con and Beans records, and I think the Jimmy Edgar record is weak, actually can't believe it was deserving of any attention whatsoever*. Jimmy Edgar is the Zoolander of Techno, you read that here first. Looking at them now, as an entity they seem to be coasting on a reputation, when for a while (Artificial Intelligence onwards) they triumphed at spotting new talent. The last WARP thing which truly excelled was the Vincent Gallo record.

-

I've never really earmarked the good US independent labels, but I guess Matador/Drag City (are they different entitities?) would come among them?

*apologies in advance to SD and NG.

Woebot
08-11-2004, 09:27 AM
actually carpark/acute might reasonably be seen to have taken over where WARP left off.

matt b
08-11-2004, 09:33 AM
warp have been failing for years. signing stuff like !!! smells of desperation to me. a friend who has some dealings with warp told me (around the period they moved to london) that they were chasing money rather than good music, and it shows. they did do some good parties though, mainly because their acts didn't play at them ;)

in terms of US independents, load has offered up some consistently excellent (if noisy) records over the past couple of years, as have the kill rock stars sub-labels, with stuff like thrones (who needs sunn (((o when you've got this?), hella etc

mms
08-11-2004, 09:45 AM
in terms of indies doing well i think domino, well franz ferdinand in particular and 679 (which is a pretend indie) are doing good things, matador has one big act interpol and not much else, drag city are pretty good, but also 50/50 owned by the beggars group, still putting out good things tho.
Know what you mean about warp tho, i liked the beans lp much more than i thought i would tho, and some of the stuff on that label that gets underepresented is really great. Like the last mira calx single, ace and the req album, also ace.They do seem to be sleeping a bit tho.

Woebot
08-11-2004, 09:49 AM
they were chasing money rather than good music, and it shows.

well if they're chasing money, they're going about it the wrong way is all i can say. killing your label is hardly the way to proceed. there is a lot of WARP hating online. i know that at the black dog's forum, an anti-WARP thread is one guaranteed to get the punters in ;)

some people attribute it's decline to rob's death. as for moving to london, well maybe, i'm not so cynical when it comes to people's ambitions (not that im suggesting you are!) can anyone think a thing they've done right ? (nick gutterbreakz exluded from answering this, lol !!!)

mms
08-11-2004, 09:54 AM
i dont think they are chasing money to be honest but i think they have to make it like every other label.
its a weird time for music, electronic music in particular, ie no one really buys it like they used to, alot of the mid 90's uk intelligent techno generation (fans and musicians) are still stuck in that rut, warp have a rep and things have got to change up.
everything must change really.
as for the black dog site well.. you know the score there.

matt b
08-11-2004, 10:10 AM
and some of the stuff on that label that gets underepresented is really great.

my disappointment with warp stems from how great they were, and how much they have fallen off their game. they do still release the odd cracker- the dj maxximus 12" for example, but its not consistent enough.

matt b
08-11-2004, 10:21 AM
i dont think they are chasing money to be honest but i think they have to make it like every other label.

this comment was from a guy who had links with them, and he felt that the 'senior' members of warp weren't that interested in music anymore.


its a weird time for music, electronic music in particular, ie no one really buys it like they used to .

but aren't warp responsible for a lot of this? hyping groups that are simply not that interesting or releasing under par records by former greats (second prefuse 73 lp, drukqs).

xl on the other hand haven't ever gone for 'cool' cache, but just release stuff. a bit like a bigger version of leaf.

Nick Gutterbreakz
08-11-2004, 10:23 AM
WARP on the other hand seems to be losing it's lustre. They seems to miss trick after trick, both the Position Normal and Junior Boys seemed to be tailor-made for WARP, both of which they let go by. They've put out feeble Anti-Con and Beans records, and I think the Jimmy Edgar record is weak, actually can't believe it was deserving of any attention whatsoever*.

*apologies in advance to SD and NG.

Apology accepted, although it might take me a while to forgive you, Matt. To be honest I'm getting used to it - there doesn't seem to be much love for Jimmy out there. :( Maybe I'm just 'past it' anyway and wouldn't know real talent if it came up and nailed me in the ass. Whatever, the boy Edgar floats my boat along with Shadetek, Milanese, Prefuse etc...less sure about Beans, admittedly - but there's enuff coming thru on Warp to keep me reasonably satisfied. A new BOC album would be nice, mind.

However, your concerns about Warp losing the plot may have some validity. They've been a bit slow picking up on Grime for instance (why was it left to little Mikey Paradinas to release the Mark One album?). Maybe they are indeed missing the astute A&R instincts of founder Rob Mitchell. I don't think we can write Warp off yet, tho.

puretokyo
08-11-2004, 10:24 AM
This is something that has been playing out in my thoughts for a while. The Jimmy Edgar signing was completely inexplicable, the new Beans album is mediocre, this new band, Maximo Park, sound like they are a direct attempt to be a poor man's Bloc Party, um, the !!! album was poor, Gravenhurst is no great shakes at all, the list goes on. The last good releases I can bring to mind were Shadetek, Gallo, SOTE (the Electric Deaf 12" was my fave of the year, anyone heard anyting else like that one?), Chris Clark, Antipop, the first Beans record, Other People Place... almost all pre - post-Rob, except Shadetek (and even there, the Warp EP is nowhere near their best work). Is Steve really that incompetent?


PS! I forgot, that new band, Home Video, are superb. Totally understated, luscious, a little Junior Boys-y... I've been listening their 10" and the new EP a lot.

So... I guess they have released some good records. But once upon a time, I relied on Warp to show me music I hadn't thought was possible, and then to slowly train me to appreciate it. Nowadays, everything they do seems like catch-up to someone else...

mms
08-11-2004, 10:37 AM
this comment was from a guy who had links with them, and he felt that the 'senior' members of warp weren't that interested in music anymore.



but aren't warp responsible for a lot of this? hyping groups that are simply not that interesting or releasing under par records by former greats (second prefuse 73 lp, drukqs).

xl on the other hand haven't ever gone for 'cool' cache, but just release stuff. a bit like a bigger version of leaf.


i have pretty strong links with them myself but then thats none of your business.
i thought drukqs was great,probably one of the best records afx has done but waaay too long, prefuse i'd agree with, neeeded much stronger a and ring. But the last squarepusher lp was great so..
no i don't thing warp are responsible for this at all, xl were never a label which were strongly associated with electronics, i think peoples tastes have changed and the people who are longtime warp fans are buying flats and having babies etc, music has changed too, the market for music has changed, electronic music has gone way down in the estimations of the press etc, the press want bands etc now, music fans want to feel part of an event, an extention of all these small bands. i do think some great electronic based music has come out in the last few years on a number of labels, it doesn't sell well or get any press though..

matt b
08-11-2004, 10:38 AM
gosh, i forgot that sote record- 'kin brilliant.
other spannered garage= din ST, dj maxximus and some k-rock stuff (especially the 7" that came with the first lp on rephlex) and some of the other stuff on kool pop

simon silverdollar
08-11-2004, 10:38 AM
hang on, tho, aren't XL also a bit shit at the moment? i mean, apart from dizzee [and ratatat, who i LOVE, controversially], who have they got recently that's really good?

good things that warp have done recently; mira calix, JIMMY EDGAR, team shadetek, and setting up a hiphop sublabel to put out the utterly fantastic dangermous + jemini record.

Nick Gutterbreakz
08-11-2004, 10:55 AM
the people who are longtime warp fans are buying flats and having babies etc, music has changed too, the market for music has changed, electronic music has gone way down in the estimations of the press etc, the press want bands etc now, music fans want to feel part of an event, an extention of all these small bands. i do think some great electronic based music has come out in the last few years on a number of labels, it doesn't sell well or get any press though..

Jesus, does that make me a long looong time Warp fan, then? I did the flat buying stuff years ago. I live in a detached house now! Been busy reproducing and raising kiddies for yonks too! Everything else you said there is absolutely bang-on, of course. The current climate is bound to effect the labels. And where's all the new talent gonna come from when all the kids wanna be rock and pop stars these days?

mms
08-11-2004, 11:04 AM
And where's all the new talent gonna come from when all the kids wanna be rock and pop stars these days?

this of course is the challenge, i think as well the idm reason d'etre, which went hand in hand with the growth of the internet in the mid 90's ie, mindblowing programming, unheard sounds and amazing melodies has reached a limit of some kind as well, alot of the current crop of idmy producers either seem to be reaching for some kind of uncomprimising extremetey which takes time to get into, like vsnares for instance or mego, or is harking back to b12, nu groove early warp etc, like claro intellecto etc, the sound of the future from 12 years ago, neither are bad but neither are engaging with anything outside of themselves, not even dancing particularly which is a real shame.

puretokyo
08-11-2004, 11:55 AM
Can I mention Schematic here as well? Given that they started as basically "Warp Miami"... Their first, say, 20 releases were the stuff of absolute dreams, all the Phoenecia, Rom and Josh stuff and Richard Devine was stunning, they were going where Autechre had promised. But for the last three years or so all I can bring to mind is the Glen Velez reissue and the O9 album, other than that its mostly just otto von schirach and dino felipe cast-offs littering the new releases page... almost like warp in a microcosm?

matt b: thanks for the Din-ST etc tip, I had a look at the schematic album and didn't pick it up, how is it? and fyi, sote released a 12" on a san francisco label called Dielectric, about a year after the warp ep. Good stuff but not quite as great. Check out aquariusrecords.org, they are hooked up with dielectric.

originaldrum
08-11-2004, 12:12 PM
i thought i was never gonna forgive them after the broadcast album came out, but then i was quite happy with the chris clark release

i can't help but think this has happened many times before, who was it again that said that all labels turn to shit after (x) amount of releases - was it fifty or eighty - i dunno

puretokyo
08-11-2004, 12:18 PM
Label rot, eh? I blame Factory.

But then Kompakt is going strong just past 100...

Woebot
08-11-2004, 12:44 PM
there doesn't seem to be much love for Jimmy out there. :(

well you've simon sd fighting your corner, and a few other bods! you're not alone gutter!

bun-u
08-11-2004, 12:53 PM
"and I think the Jimmy Edgar record is weak, actually can't believe it was deserving of any attention whatsoever*. Jimmy Edgar is the Zoolander of Techno, you read that here first. Looking at them now, as an entity they seem to be coasting on a reputation, when for a while (Artificial Intelligence onwards) they triumphed at spotting new talent. The last WARP thing which truly excelled was the Vincent Gallo record."

Agree with this - listened to Jimmy Edgar in Rough Trade on Saturday and was instantly put off (fits in with the 'broken beats' end of things, whatever that is?) - and Gallo was the last best Warp thing that I heard or was drawn to listen to. That said, and I may be wrong but isn't XL a Sony subsidiary - and therefore you are not comparing like for like?

I also think that letting Wiley go was a big mistake for XL - they seemed to make alot a bad decisions about marketing and releases for the 'treddin on thin ice' album, and if they'd played things well they would've got a willing Wiley to set up a small feeder label from which them they could've had the cherry pickings.

blissblogger
08-11-2004, 01:07 PM
got nothing intelligent to say on this topic (never heard of Jimmy Edgar and know instantly i'd be in the anti camp) but by weird synchrony there is an ILM thread tangentially intersecting with this one, on the anti-IDM consensus

http://ilx.p3r.net/thread.php?msgid=5223116

the most interesting comments are by drew daniel yes him outta matmos, and although he intends to defend idm from its detractors (he likes jimmy edgar) when acknowledging the formulaic-ness of the genre he makes rather a devastating critique especially as its informed by technical knowledge, ie he knows precisely how easy it is to make this music

planning a cull of my record collectition and one of the areas where there'll be the most carnage, i suspect, is the IDM (post97ish, not the first wave Anglo idm before it was IDM stuff)/glitchcore/clickyglitchy type stuff. and i'm not anticipating being able to sell it for much.

mms
08-11-2004, 02:14 PM
i don't know how all music isn't amazing right now but it never is. but the possibilities are there.
cliques and genres will ruin everything.

seahorsegenius
08-11-2004, 02:57 PM
If you own a label, and you start signing friend's bands....chances are your label is going to go down fast. :confused:

mms
08-11-2004, 03:08 PM
If you own a label, and you start signing friend's bands....chances are your label is going to go down fast. :confused:

i don't think thats what any of these labels have done. and also that's not necessarily true, alot of labels are set up precisely to sign friends bands, alot of smaller labels work from a kind of community as well, for example before warp were warp they signed a nascent pulp..

jed_
08-11-2004, 04:23 PM
I think part of the problem is to do with identity. Warp had a very fixed identity in the 90's but that seems less and less relevant now for various reasons. There was a WARP sound then but there isnt really one now, is there? WARP don't know what it is themselves - i mean whats the point of that Lex sub label for hip hop when you are putting out the Beans record on WARP proper? make your mind up guys - either put everything out on WARP or try to decide what lex and warp respectively really are.

i agree with the point above that signing !!! was a somewhat desperate attempt to get some hipster cachet. Ironically though, i can imagine if something like "last Exit" had come out on warp it would have slipped under that radar despite Warp's high profile.

mms
08-11-2004, 06:06 PM
jed, last exit is out in the states on domino, dunno how it's doing tho,
i'm the wrong person to ask but i'm interested to know....

originaldrum
09-11-2004, 02:24 AM
Label rot, eh? I blame Factory.

But then Kompakt is going strong just past 100...



seen.

xero
09-11-2004, 07:52 AM
there's no comparison really between Warp & XL - I mean Warp has held a strong identity for almost all of its existence until recently when, yes it does seem like they're desperate to evade the unfashionable-ness of electronica. XL started off as a hardcore label but quickly widened the net to include any vaguely alternative act that was likely to attain commercial success

Admittedly Warp & its slavish followers can get right up your nose, I've met people who seem to listen exclusively to warp or warp-related acts - how sad is that

But Warp win hands down in the artwork stakes - XL covers have always been shite (...waits for hail of exceptions) - as well as in the video department

Woebot
09-11-2004, 08:24 AM
But Warp win hands down in the artwork stakes - XL covers have always been shite (...waits for hail of exceptions) - as well as in the video department

the thing is XL's background as a rave label, though for quite a long time seemed pretty debased (how much kudos did those early releases lend them in spite of the re-appraisal of ardkore, not much!) with the passing of the years that pedigree has seemed increasing relevant. i mean, theyre a heterogeneous label by definition aren't they, and they seems to suit them carrying a wider remit of acts (basement jaxx, dizzy, banhart etc)

as for the artwork, well excuse me if i disagree. if i see another designers republic sleeve with itsy bitsy teeny weeny fonts skewed perpendicularly in some oddball location then i'll burst into sobs. the jimmy edgar sleeve was just another one of these. at least with the broadcast sleeve they did something a bit bold. as for the XL sleeves, well i just adored the previous basement jaxx one, and the leila one (that sunk without a trace that record) and the dizzy ones well theyre a bit shite admittedly.

i guess with the boombip things WARP really did push the boat out. i mean, you'd have to be a cold heart not to appreciate that. but, stone me, the music didnt really seem to hold up.

(scratches head) i must say though, i have been struck by the quantity of "lesser" stuff out on these labels which people say is worth hearing. stuff im oblivious too. however maybe thats the problem (obv being a bit contrary here), people are willing to actually pay attention to everything WARP puts out to the detriment of taking a broader view of things.

xero
09-11-2004, 08:42 AM
as for the artwork, well excuse me if i disagree. if i see another designers republic sleeve with itsy bitsy teeny weeny fonts skewed perpendicularly in some oddball location then i'll burst into sobs.


can't say fairer than that - but 10 or twelve years ago it was a different story - like 4AD, warp always had a strong visual style that helped give the whole package a sense of purpose, I just don't think the same can be said of XL despite the odd successful sleeve

Woebot
09-11-2004, 08:47 AM
can't say fairer than that - but 10 or twelve years ago it was a different story - like 4AD, warp always had a strong visual style that helped give the whole package a sense of purpose, I just don't think the same can be said of XL despite the odd successful sleeve

i'd agree! it MUST be too early in the morning for a magic moment :D

xero
09-11-2004, 08:52 AM
but it's reminded me - must start a sleeve art thread when I get a few moments, miss those WOEBOT specials...

matt b
09-11-2004, 09:26 AM
the thing is XL's background as a rave label, though for quite a long time seemed pretty debased (how much kudos did those early releases lend them in spite of the re-appraisal of ardkore, not much!) .

well, their contribution was mainly licensed euro rave comps which apart from the odd gem don't sound too special now imo, and the prodigy-who given their mainstream appeal have lost their credibility despite being ace for a time ('everybody in the place' is one of the finest tunes of that era)

Nick Gutterbreakz
09-11-2004, 11:08 AM
Admittedly Warp & its slavish followers can get right up your nose, I've met people who seem to listen exclusively to warp or warp-related acts - how sad is that



Not guilty, your honour!!

Nick Gutterbreakz
09-11-2004, 11:10 AM
like 4AD, warp always had a strong visual style that helped give the whole package a sense of purpose,

Cor, not 'arf! Those generic purple disco bags used to give me a hard-on everytime!!

bassnation
09-11-2004, 03:16 PM
warp have been failing for years.

i don't know about that - dj maxximus & something j ragga electro tune "Mercedes Bentley Vs. Versace Armani" was absolutely wicked plus the arcola offshoot is also doing it for me.

i'm talking dancefloor though, the avant garde output leaves me cold but thats just my taste.

Diggedy Derek
09-11-2004, 04:05 PM
i thought i was never gonna forgive them after the broadcast album came out

I thought I'd hate Broadcast, given that they sound a bit like Stereolab, but Ha Ha Sound was so lush and melancholy, so packed with ideas and musical memories I was totally seduced. Roll on the next album!

Otherwise, though, the Warp label means very little to me these days.

mms
09-11-2004, 05:04 PM
yeah broadcast are lovely esp come on let's go.
also jamie lidell is astonishing live.