Warp Vision

By Ed Chamberlin

Video Killed the Radio Star. The Buggles' most famous tune is renowned not only in its own right, but also as the pub-quiz style answer to the question 'what was the first music video aired on MTV?' 'Oh the irony!' today's cynics love to point out. While this choice of video as the first for the fledgling network is obviously laced with it, what is possibly even more ironic is the fact that the producers of the channel simply had very little videos to choose from. This has all changed now, and it has long been the case that, without a video, your song wasn't going anywhere. Less prosperous bands found themselves having to throw together hasty and visually boring videos, just to tap into the couch-potato market, and among colossal pop-juggernauts, it became an arms race for the most pointlessly elaborate, special-effects laden visual chunder their elastic wallets could stretch to. Unfortunately, MTV is now largely boring and formulaic to watch, as the same conventions and restrictions that dictate the climate of pop music seeped their way into the video format.

Warp, however, have never felt bound by any such notions, as we all know from the seemingly limitless supply of inventive music released on the label. The same is true of the accompanying videos. Chris Cunningham has gained the most notoriety for his interpretations of Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy and Windowlicker videos. And rightly so – they are twisted, hilarious and strangely elegant (despite the disturbing imagery). Cunningham also makes his presence felt with Squarepusher's Come On My Selector (complete with awesome psychotic Japanese girl motives, and a talking dog); it is possibly his greatest achievement (although the sheer beauty of Björk's All Is Full Of Love takes some beating). The imaginary robots from All Is Full Of Love also make an appearance on Autechre's Second Bad Vilbel to brilliant effect, although that band's barren electronic wasteland style are far more accurately visualised on the video for Gantz_Graf, directed by Alex Rutterford. But the futurist-style of these videos is offset by the equally weird and wonderful older clips courtesy of LFO, Sabres of Paradise and Nightmares on Wax, plus the inevitable stop motion collage of Aphex's On directed by a pre-mainstream success Jarvis Cocker. Much like the Wire Tapper compilations, Rune Grammofon's Money Will Ruin Everything collection and most Warp compilation releases, this is a heartening manifesto to unbridled creativity, with all its inevitable ups and downs. Add some true class to your DVD collection.
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