Geogaddi Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2 Surfing on Sine Waves Frequencies
The Noise Made by People Tri Repetae Sabresonic For Beginner Piano

The time is right to focus in on Warp Records. In an age when all agree that electronic dance music gets equal time in clubs and on headphones (to say nothing of arenas and festivals), it's important to look back to a time when the proposition seemed silly, and to one of the labels that turned that misconception on its head.

Coming out of the rave era, British dance music was exploding in the clubs and even on the charts, but nowhere else. Sure, scads of compilation CDs littered the racks, but was anyone aside from DJs and novelty seekers really interested in owning the tracks, most of which were so simplistic they could have taken 20 minutes to put together and weren't conducive to listening, aside from in a club? That was the dance-music atmosphere that Warp Records entered in 1989, and it's hard to over-estimate the impact it had. Granted, it certainly wasn't the only label with the same aesthetic (also qualifying here would be R&S/Apollo, Ninja Tune, Rising High, Tresor, Plus 8, and Nü Electronica), but Warp engaged a wider assortment of great artists than any other and its long lifespan soon made it the home for an entire movement.

What kicked it off for many listeners was the Artificial Intelligence compilation from 1992. On the cover was a typical bachelor-pad living room, with an android sunk deep into an armchair -- presumably relaxing after a long day at the plant, complete with spliff in hand and beer on the floor -- while a few LPs lay strewn about, Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk among them. Below the image was a tag: "electronic listening music" (not exactly music for dancing, then). The music inside was fantastic, but the cover alone provided the key to the Warp aesthetic. To make electronic dance music worth listening to off the dancefloor, it had to have life. It had to have a memory and a soul.

Granted, early Warp records were simplistic machine techno, hard-hitting, tough tracks built off the same blueprint as Chicago acid house and Detroit techno. But also in kinship with those Midwestern centers of industry (and certainly not so far off from the Sheffield home of Warp), the tracks sounded like they came from machines that were, gradually, learning to think and feel.

During its first few years, virtually all of the major figures in experimental techno had at least a compilation release on Warp, including Autechre, Aphex Twin, Plastikman's Richie Hawtin, Dr. Alex Paterson of the Orb, LFO, the Black Dog, Sabres of Paradise, and many more. And the Warp roster soon expanded to include acts that were younger and less tied to '80s dance imports from America. These artists (think Broadcast and Boards of Canada) looked to different points in history, but connected with the same aesthetic: music that made machines sound human. (Of course, it certainly didn't hurt that those two acts did it better than any of their contemporaries.) That tradition soon branched out to embrace not just different forms of electronica, from electro to jungle, but also rock (Red Snapper, !!!, Maxïmo Park, Battles, Grizzly Bear) and hip-hop (Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Gonjasufi).

As its ten-year and twenty-year anniversary came and went, Warp has continued to put out some of the most boundary-pushing music on the globe. So sit back and relax like some artificial lifeform from years to come, nostalgically reflecting on the futuristic music of the distant past.

John Bush
Favorites from the first 15 years, 1989-2004...
Various Artists - Artificial Intelligence
Black Dog Productions - Bytes
Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
LFO - Frequencies
Autechre - Incunabula
B12 - Electro-Soma
The Sabres of Paradise - Sabresonic
Kenny Larkin - Azimuth
The Black Dog - Spanners
Nightmares on Wax - Smokers Delight
Autechre - Tri Repetae
LFO - Advance
Squarepusher - Hard Normal Daddy
Broadcast - Work and Non Work
Plaid - Not for Threes
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Squarepusher - Music Is Rotted One Note
Plaid - Rest Proof Clockwork
Prefuse 73 - One Word Extinguisher
Squarepusher - Ultravisitor

LFO - "LFO"
Nightmares on Wax - "Aftermath"
LFO - "We Are Back"
Polygon Window - "Quoth"
Musicology - "Telefone 529"
I.A.O. - "The Clan"
Autechre - "Crystel"
F.U.S.E. - "Train-Tracs"
Aphex Twin - "On"
Autechre - "Basscad,EP"
Sabres of Paradise - "Wilmot"
Seefeel - "Fracture/Tied"
Autechre - "Eutow"
LFO - "Tied Up"
Drexciya - "The Journey Home"
Link - "Antacid"
Freeform - "Prowl"
Jimi Tenor - "Outtaspace"
Aphex Twin - "Come to Daddy"
Nightmares on Wax - "Finer"

Andy Kellman
Spotify

Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
Black Dog Productions - Bytes
B12 - Electro-Soma
Kenny Larkin - Azimuth
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
Autechre - Tri Repetae
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People
The Other People Place - Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

Sweet Exorcist - "Testone"
LFO - "LFO"
Nightmares on Wax - "I'm for Real"
Seefeel - "Starethrough"
Drexciya - "Black Sea"
Mike Ink - "Paroles"
Plaid - "Lilith"
Squarepusher - "My Sound"
LoneLady - "If Not Now"
Hudson Mohawke - "FUSE"

Heather Phares
Broadcast - Tender Buttons
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People
Plone - For Beginner Piano
Broadcast - Haha Sound
LoneLady - Nerve Up
Battles - Mirrored
Gravenhurst - The Ghost in Daylight
Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue
Plaid - Rest Proof Clockwork
Gravenhurst - The Western Lands
Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

Tim Sendra
!!! - Thr!!!er
Aphex Twin - 26 Mixes for Cash
Various Artists - Artificial Intelligence
Broadcast - Haha Sound
Broadcast - Work and Non Work
LFO - Frequencies
Plone - For Beginner Piano
Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives
The Sabres of Paradise - Haunted Dancehall
Two Lone Swordsmen - Stay Down

Jason Lymangrover
Aphex Twin - 26 Mixes for Cash
Autechre - Tri Repetae
Bibio - Silver Wilkinson
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Broadcast - Work and Non Work
Clark - Totems Flare
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer
Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives
Red Snapper - Our Aim Is to Satisfy Red Snapper

James Christopher Monger
Broadcast - "Illumination"
Daniel Rossen - "Up on High"
Bibio - "Ambivalance Avenue"
Nightmares on Wax - "Ethnic Majority"
LoneLady - "If Not Now"
Aphex Twin - "To Cure a Weakling Child"
Tortoise - "Benway"
Maximo Park - "Apply Some Pressure"
Battles - "Atlas"
Autechre - "Eutow"
Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
Boards of Canada - "Dawn Chorus"
Squarepusher - "Unreal Square"
Gravenhurst - "Trust"
LFO - "Simon from Sydney"

James Wilkinson
Although from its inception Warp became a byword for electronic music, it went on to broaden its palette in later years, signing up acts that stepped slightly outside that field. With Broadcast forming such a regular part of my listening since I happily stumbled across them when passing a tent at Reading '96, I couldn’t bring myself to leave out any of their albums from the list below. From the light breeze ushered in by "Accidentals" -- on the 1997 Work & Non Work EP compilation -- to the cold, harsh wind that blows through this year's Berberian Sound Studio soundtrack, I think that each of James Cargill's and the late Trish Keenan's imaginative releases deserves to grace any list for which they qualify. Elsewhere, it's hard to imagine the Ghost Box label existing without the influence of Boards of Canada, while the world of tense, intelligent folk created by Nick Talbot under the Gravenhurst name reached a clear high point with last year's The Ghost in Daylight.

Autechre - Incunabula
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
Seefeel - Succour
Broadcast - Work and Non Work
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Stereolab - Aluminum Tunes: Switched On, Vol. 3
Plone - For Beginner Piano
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Broadcast - Haha Sound
Gravenhurst - Flashlight Seasons
Original Soundtrack - Dead Man's Shoes
Harmonic 33 - Music for Film, Television and Radio, Vol. 1
Broadcast - Tender Buttons
Broadcast - Future Crayon
Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
Broadcast & the Focus Group - Broadcast & the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Gravenhurst - The Ghost in Daylight
Broadcast - Berberian Sound Studio
Bibio - Silver Wilkinson

Richard Wilson
When it comes to Warp there is one track that stands out for me above all the other superb stuff they have put out, Sweet Exorcist's “Testfour.” My older brother was immersed in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s acid house scene in the U.K. and bought a huge amount of vinyl around that time. I never forget hearing “Testfour” for the first time. The opening sample from Close Encounters, those bleeps, the bass, and that beat, it still sends shivers down my spine to this day and it's pretty much the main reason why I still have a deep love of all things electronic.

Squarepusher - Hard Normal Daddy
Autechre - Amber
Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
LFO - Frequencies
Clark - Body Riddle
Aphex Twin - Drukqs
FUSE - Dimension Intrusion
Speedy J - G-Spot
Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence
The Sabres of Paradise - Sabresonic

Aphex Twin - "Come to Daddy"
Aphex Twin - "On"
F.U.S.E. - "Train-Tracs"
LFO - "LFO"
LFO vs F.U.S.E. - "Loop"
Link & E621 - "Antacid"
Nightmares on Wax - "Dextrous"
Polygon Window - "Quoth"
Squarepusher - "Big Loada"
Sweet Exorcist - "Testfour"

Aneet Nijjar
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
Broadcast - Tender Buttons
Broadcast - Haha Sound
Broadcast & the Focus Group - Broadcast & the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Elecktroids - Elektroworld
LFO - Frequencies
LFO - Advance
The Sabres of Paradise - Sabresonic
Speedy J - G-Spot
Stereolab - Aluminum Tunes: Switched On, Vol. 3

Aphex Twin - "Windowlicker"
Coco Steel & Lovebomb - "Feel It"
FUSE - "Train-Tracs"
LFO - "LFO"
LFO - "Freak"
LFO Vs. FUSE - "Loop"
Jackson and His Computer Band - "Rock On"
Nightmare On Wax - "I'm For Real"
Sweet Exorcist - "Testone"

John Buchanan
I figured I was going to fill half this list with Autechre albums, but when I looked back over the Warp discography I remembered just what an amazing selection of absolutely classic albums they have released over the years in so many different genres, so I decided to give as many artists a nod as I could. Some of these may not be the best or most representative albums of the artists in question -- they may not even be my personal favorites (though most of them are) -- but each holds something special for me.

Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
Autechre - Amber
The Black Dog - Spanners
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People
Brothomstates - Claro
Clark - Body Riddle
Jimmy Edgar - Color Strip
Brian Eno - Lux
Gravenhurst - Flashlight Seasons
LFO - Sheath
Mira Calix - Eyes Set Against the Sun
Plaid - Spokes
Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
Red Snapper - Our Aim Is to Satisfy Red Snapper
The Sabres of Paradise - Haunted Dancehall
Savath & Savalas - Apropa't
Seefeel - Succour
Squarepusher - Hello Everything
Tortoise - Standards

Aphex Twin - ""On""
Autechre - ""Gantz Graf""
Broadcast - "Pendulum"
Brothomstates - ""Qtio""
Clark - ""Throttle Furniture""
Jimmy Edgar - ""Access Rhythm""
Gravenhurst - ""The Velvet Cell""
Home Video - ""That You Might""
Milanese - ""1Up""
Sabres of Paradise - ""Theme""
Seefeel - ""Fracture/Tied""
Squarepusher - "My Red Hot Car"
Team Shadetek - "Burnerism"