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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 Utopia Defeated by D D Dumbo

Utopia Defeated

D D Dumbo

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Blood by This Mortal Coil

Blood

This Mortal Coil

£12.99 - £37.99

Album artwork for Half Free by U.S. Girls

Half Free

U.S. Girls

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Womb by Purity Ring

Womb

Purity Ring

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Species by Bing and Ruth

Species

Bing and Ruth

£11.99 - £32.99

Album artwork for Trust by Sohn

Trust

Sohn

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Title Tk by The Breeders

Title Tk

The Breeders

£8.99 - £21.99

Album artwork for Sketchy by Tune-Yards

Sketchy

Tune-Yards

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Monomania by Deerhunter

Monomania

Deerhunter

£5.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Sum / One by BeeDeeGee

Sum / One

BeeDeeGee

£13.99 - £19.99

Album artwork for Blue Film by Lo Fang

Blue Film

Lo Fang

£12.99 - £21.99

Album artwork for Tremors by Sohn

Tremors

Sohn

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Nikki Nack by Tune-Yards

Nikki Nack

Tune-Yards

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Bulli by Velvet Negroni

Bulli

Velvet Negroni

£11.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for After the End by Merchandise

After the End

Merchandise

£11.99 - £16.99

Album artwork for Pom Pom by Ariel Pink

Pom Pom

Ariel Pink

£11.99 - £27.99

Album artwork for Soused by Scott Walker

Soused

Scott Walker

£9.99 - £28.99

Album artwork for Platform by Holly Herndon

Platform

Holly Herndon

£11.99 - £27.99

Album artwork for Era by In Camera

Era

In Camera

£12.99 - £27.99

Album artwork for Return to the Moon by EL VY

Return to the Moon

EL VY

£8.99 - £22.99

Album artwork for Classic Objects by Jenny Hval

Classic Objects

Jenny Hval

£11.99 - £24.99