4AD is a British independent record label that was started in 1980 by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent, originally funded by Beggars Banquet. Grimes' ''Visions'' and ''Art Angels'' were released through this label.
The current roster includes Ariel Pink, Atlas Sound, Beirut, Bon Iver, Camera Obscura, D.D Dumbo, Daughter,Deerhunter, Efterklang, Future Islands, Gang Gang Dance, Holly Herndon, Indians, Iron & Wine, Merchandise, The National, Pixx, Purity Ring, Scott Walker, SOHN, Tim Hecker, Tune-Yards and U.S. Girls.
4AD forms part of the Beggars Group, along with Matador Records, Rough Trade Records and XL Recordings. Its history has been detailed by Martin Aston in his biography of the label, Facing The Other Way, released 2013.
The main genres of the record label are: Alternative rock, dream pop, noise pop, post-punk, electronica, indie rock, new wave, ambient pop, etc.
- Purity Ring, Another Eternity (CAD 3501)
- Future Islands, Singles (CAD 3402)
- SOHN, Tremors (CAD 3403)
- Tune-Yards, Nikki Nack (CAD 3414)
- Merchandise, After the End (CAD 3430)
- Ariel Pink, Pom Pom (CAD 3440)
- Daughter, If You Leave (CAD 3301)
- Iron & Wine, Ghost on Ghost (CAD 3306)
- Deerhunter, Monomania (CAD 3307)
- The National, Trouble Will Find Me (CAD 3315)
- Camera Obscura, Desire Lines (CAD 3314)
- Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral (CAD 3202)
- Grimes, Visions (CAD 3208)
- Purity Ring, Shrines (CAD 3218)
- David Byrne & St. Vincent, Love This Giant (CAD 3231)
- Scott Walker, Bish Bosch (CAD 3220)
Catalog numbering scheme
For the most part, 4AD's official UK releases follow a standard scheme for designating catalog numbers. Although there have been some variations over the years, some general rules can be devised to easily determine the format (LP, CD, etc.) and year of release by looking at a 4AD catalog number.
The first part of a catalog number is a prefix that contains a variation of "AD," based on the 4AD name. Some standards are:
- AD = single
- BAD = EP
- CAD = full-length LP
- DAD = double LP
- MAD = mini-LP
Special editions of releases had an extra "D" added to the prefix:
- CAD D = special edition of a full-length LP
- DAD D = special edition of a double LP
Some other "AD" variations have been used less frequently over the years, including (but not limited to):
- EAD = electronic download
- GAD = reissue (usually mid-priced)
- HAD = remastered or significantly altered reissue (usually with some combination of bonus tracks, re-mastering, or new artwork)
- JAD and MAD = "mini album" that is longer than an EP but shorter than an LP
- SAD = Super Audio CD release (as in the Dead Can Dance 2008 remastered reissues)
- TAD = temporary/limited release
4AD only released one LP on DAT format, Cocteau Twins' Blue Bell Knoll, which was designated CADT 807.
The second part of the catalog number is a number that represents the year of release (via the number of years since 1980, following the '1980 Forward' theme), and the order of release in the particular year. For example, This Mortal Coil's LP It'll End in Tears is CAD 411. The "CAD" represents that the release is an LP, the "4" in 411 represents 1984, and 11 marks the 11th release of that year. This is the vinyl LP release; cassette versions have "C" added to the prefix (CADC 411 in this example); CD versions have "CD" added at the end (CAD 411CD).
A side effect of this scheme is that it made it seem like 4AD had hundreds of releases early on. Once again using CAD411 as an example, a causal observer might assume this was the 411th release in the label's catalog, when 4AD actually had less than 100 total releases in their catalog at the time. In the 1990s, 4AD changed the first part of the number from "100s" to "1000s," temporarily making the number not correspond with the number of years since 1980. Releases in 1990 used "00" directly after the prefix (e.g., the Pixies' Bossanova, CAD0010, released in the fall of 1990); 1991 used "10" directly after the prefix (e.g., This Mortal Coil'sBlood, DAD 1005, released early in 1991), 1992 used "20," and so on for the rest of the 1990s.
Wanting to return to numbering with the years since 1980, 4AD had to provide a workaround for releases in the year 2000. Since the "20" numerical designation had been used in 1992, all releases in 2000 used "2K" (e.g., Mojave 3's Excuses for Travellers, CAD 2K05, released in early 2000). Since 2001, the catalog numbering scheme has finally been able to return to the original format with the first part of the number representing the years since 1980. Things have not been too consistent since, and there have been several gaps. 2010 releases start the numerical designation 3X, as "30" had already been used in 1993.
The 4AD Sessions are an ongoing series of video recordings with various acts from the label's roster. Following on from the Deerhunter session at the Studio Plateaux on Platts Eyott island in 2008, the recordings see 4AD artists performing back-catalogue covers and alternative versions of their own material. They are housed on the label's website.