It's difficult to believe, but it's been seven years since director Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin collaborated to create the impressively sick video for "Come to Daddy." The legendary clip a post-apocalyptic nightmare of hooligan preschoolers all cursed with bearing Richard James' head on their tiny bodies is probably one of the best music videos of all time. Yet, by 1997, when "Come to Daddy" was filmed, Aphex Twin's label home, Warp, had already established a reputation as a pioneer in groundbreaking electronic music and the accompanying videos.
By its very nature, the culture surrounding electronic musicians has always given emphasis to visual stimulation; with no "band to watch," DJs spinning in clubs often rely on fantastic light shows or banks of monitors displaying fractals and found images to provide a more complete experience for the clubgoer. Warp with its stable of artists working well beyond the mainstream clubbing experience took the video aspect to ridiculously creative levels, resulting in videos that were as challenging and different as the blips and scratches on the label's albums.
Warp Vision collects 30-plus clips from Warp's 15-year history and, naturally, "Come to Daddy" is a big highlight (as is Cunningham's hilariously profane long-form clip for "Windowlicker," which uses the same effects to an entirely different end). But there's a lot more to Warp's visual history than a few amazing Aphex Twin videos.
Jimi Tenor's odd techno-cheese gets an appropriately florid treatment in the videos for "Midsummers Night" and "Total Devastation," both of which were collaborative efforts between Tenor and Finnish gloom-trash director Sökö Kaukoranta. In contrast, the Cunningham-directed clip for Autechre's "Second Bad Vilbel" is dark, stark and scary.
What's interesting to note is that, although some of the directors are used on multiple clips (Jarvis Cocker was behind the lens for three of the label's earliest videos), none remain in play for more than a couple years. This is obvious evidence that Warp artists are primarily looking for new and different ideas. And from the anti-stereotype vibe of Antipop Consortium's "Perpendicular/Vector" to the gauzy static of Seefeel's "Fracture," little here is redundant unless you count freakish appearances of Richard James' head.