An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Collection Definition Conundrum

When deciding to collect something, it’s interesting trying to define the boundaries of what classes as “part of the collection”. I did decide that the first decade of 4AD releases would be a reasonable amount to collect. But the thought processes then where, should I be thorough, or just collect the music itself?

Well just the music is only part of the picture. What would 4AD be without graphic design? So the collection had to have to be physical releases really. Ok, but what about format? This is an interesting and changing decade for music. The compact cassette in the late seventies had taken over 8 tracks and reel to reel. By the mid eighties cassette singles were becoming a popular format. Then of course it was the decade of the CD (a well known UK future technology TV show, practically told you it was no problem to eat your dinner on a CD and it would still play. Wow! that of course was before dust was invented).

Ok, so maybe format then as well. So that makes the collection quite large, all releases all formats. But what about the music that the artists produced while signed to 4AD but not released by 4AD? It would be a shame to miss out on that music as well. Also, if 4AD managed to get them signed just after the artist’s first release, surely a collection would be incomplete without those releases as well? Then, of course, there’s also releases under license.

As you can see the definition gets more and more encompassing. I think I’ve finished moving the boundaries from this point. I had thoughts recently of including more recent re-releases. Some of them are wonderful. Dead Can Dance box sets, This Mortal Coil white vinyl, Bauhaus re-masters. Very tempting, but I have to stop the expansion before the waistline breaks.

So the definition is :

The first decade of 4AD releases in all formats, under all licences (within the same decade) and all other releases made by the artists in the same decade within a year either side of their contract to 4AD.

That’s still quite a haul

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