Record label from London which was created in 1980 as an offshoot of Beggars Banquet by Ivo Watts-Russell. Characterized early on by heavy goth influences - The Birthday Party, Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch and Bauhaus. In the "second coming" they defined the ethereal and ambient genres with Cocteau Twins, Dif Juz and This Mortal Coil. In the "third coming" they turned to absurdist American rock with Throwing Muses and Pixies.

Through the years, I've owned a number of alblums released on 4AD, normally discovering this fact only after listening through the record a few times. One of the things that struck me as odd was their name.

Looking at their logo, it resembles the symbols placed on early CDs, such as DDD, ADD and AAD, which reflected the analogue or digital status of 3 key phases of getting the music to your ears :
  1. Recording
  2. Mastering
  3. Playback
Now, for a CD, the 3rd letter is always D. In theory, the more Ds in the code, the better the sound. There were, however, a number of years after the initial introduction of CD players, when studio quality digital gear was wildly expensive, and out of the reach of all by the biggest studios. Bands that weren't wildly successful would often record at smaller, less expensive studios, and release ADD or AAD records, and most people couldn't really tell the difference.

Back to 4AD; if one imagines that the 4 stands for "recorded on a four-track machine", things start to make sense. A four-track recorder is the cheapest way of doing multi-track recording available, and is often associated with garage bands, underground music and other music on the fringe. Given that most people wouldn't recognize even the more successful artists on the label, I think this is a reasonable and rational explaination.


...if nothing else, my ass feels better now that I just pulled this theory out of it

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