Over the past 15 years, London's Warp Records has become arguably the foremost experimental-electronic label and geek magnet. Avoiding stagnation, Warp has no trademark sound or style, but its A&R team consistently nabs artists doing the most interesting work in their fields. These keen aesthetics also apply to most of the videos made on Warp's dime.
Warp Vision gathers 32 videos shot since the company's 1989 inception. Some--especially those helmed by Chris Cunningham--are notoriously shocking and have even been aired on MTV (Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker," Squarepusher's "Come on My Selector," Autechre's "Second Bad Vilbel"). Cunningham melds grotesque imagery (mainly superimposing Aphex's distorted visage onto kids' and hoochies' bodies) and hilarious parodies of typical videos to burn vivid scenarios into your mind.
The earliest videos (such as Sweet Exorcist's "Testone" and LFO's "LFO") feature primitive Pong graphics, computer schematics, motherboards, solarized, frantically flickering images, and footage of outer space set to bleepy armchair techno. Funny how these once-futuristic images and sounds are now pure nostalgia fodder. As we progress through the '90s, the vids get more sophisticated, ludicrous, full of incongruous images; Dadaist approaches become commonplace and almost everything seems shot to enhance your drug buzz.
Obviously, with this many works, quality varies wildly. While the musical tracks are almost always excellent, some of their visual counterparts only detract from the audio goodness (see Chris Clark's "Gob Coitus," in which insects besiege a man in a basement, and Jamie Lidell's "The City," in which he sings while shaving). Besides Cunningham's wicked send-up of blingin' hiphop vids ("Windowlicker"), the most memorable film is Alex Rutterford's perfect realization of Autechre's "Gantz Graf." It's the antithesis of most directors' cult-of-personality approach and perfectly mirrors Autechre's inhumanly complex and harsh sonic astrophysics.
Warp Vision comes with a bonus CD megamix by DJs Buddy Peace and Zilla, who masterly represent the label's dynamic range and stringent quality control.