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4AD

The influential 4AD label was started in 1980 by music enthusiasts Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent with financial help from Beggars Banquet, whose record store chain the pair worked for. Originally called Axis, they released an initial series of four 7" singles before finding out that the name Axis was already being used by another label. They quickly came up with a new name, 4AD, inspired by typography on a flyer announcing their releases. Under Ivo Watts-Russell's guidance, drawing influence from other UK indie labels such as Beggars Banquet, Postcard Records and Factory, 4AD quickly established a unique identity thanks to both the cover designs of Vaughan Oliver/v23 and the label's unique numbering system.

In 1992, 4AD entered a highly publicized Stateside distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records, opening offices in New York headed up by Robin Hurley. The label was largely run from California for most of the decade after Ivo Watts-Russell moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s. In November 1999 it was announced that Martin Mills had taken over as chairman and relocated its HQ to London.

Decoding their unique numbering system reveals various formats like mail-order only releases (4AD), LPs (CAD), MP3 downloads (EAD), posters (FAD), videos (VAD) and more. The numeric portion of their catalog numbers

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Album artwork for Warm Chris by Aldous Harding

Warm Chris

Aldous Harding

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for U.F.O.F. by Big Thief

U.F.O.F.

Big Thief

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Junkyard by Birthday Party

Junkyard

Birthday Party

£19.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Lovelife by Lush

Lovelife

Lush

£27.99 - £29.99

Album artwork for Singles by Future Islands

Singles

Future Islands

£7.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Miss Anthropocene by Grimes

Miss Anthropocene

Grimes

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Art Angels by Grimes

Art Angels

Grimes

£8.99 - £27.99

Album artwork for The Drift by Scott Walker

The Drift

Scott Walker

£10.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for In The Flat Field by Bauhaus

In The Flat Field

Bauhaus

£17.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Not To Disappear by Daughter

Not To Disappear

Daughter

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for With Love by Zomby

With Love

Zomby

£12.99 - £29.99

Album artwork for The Age Of Anxiety by Pixx

The Age Of Anxiety

Pixx

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Star by Belly

Star

Belly

£27.99

Album artwork for Aion by Dead Can Dance

Aion

Dead Can Dance

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Triage by Methyl Ethel

Triage

Methyl Ethel

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Garlands by Cocteau Twins

Garlands

Cocteau Twins

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Ex:Re by Ex:Re

Ex:Re

Ex:Re

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Far In. by Helado Negro

Far In.

Helado Negro

£11.99 - £32.99

Album artwork for No Other by Gene Clark

No Other

Gene Clark

£8.99 - £149.99

Album artwork for Love Streams by Tim Hecker

Love Streams

Tim Hecker

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Three Futures by Torres

Three Futures

Torres

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Gulag Orkestar by Beirut

Gulag Orkestar

Beirut

£7.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Party by Aldous Harding

Party

Aldous Harding

£9.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Two Hands by Big Thief

Two Hands

Big Thief

£11.99 - £22.99