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“If I hear something I like that has a level of idiosyncrasy and purpose,” Nic Tasker says, “I’m attracted to it.” This undefined characterisation of the AD 93 boss’ taste is what makes his label so special. There’s barely another one out there whose roster spans such a range with consistently top-quality, boundary-pushing material; from broken-beat UK techno to ambient, hip hop, grunge tapes and neoclassical concept albums. This range is at the heart of AD 93, helping Tasker to coax the most individual projects out of his artists.

Founded in 2014 as an offshoot of XL Recordings subsidiary, Young Turks, Tasker’s label ran under the name Whities for six years, until he changed it to AD 93 in June of 2020, in order to not “exclude or offend anyone, or be a topic of conversation at all.” He had started the label while interning at XL, where he was given the chance to release white-label records from the Young Turks artists (hence the name, Whities, or, YTs). It was soon clear that Tasker had bigger plans and, by 2017, the label was fully independent.

Whities flew out of the gates with a strong first release from Terron and Kowton’s highly-anticipated “Glock and Roll,” a much sought-after dub since Joy Orbison’s Essential Mix. Then came another of-the-moment act in oddball house producer Minor Science, and that Avalon Emerson release. Glaswegian Calum MacRae, AKA Lanark Artefax, first appeared in 2016 with a limited edition acetate sold at the South London Record Fair, before returning for a full release the following year. His Aphex Twin-approved "011" was truly groundbreaking, with glossy, hybrid sonics which hit like nothing else around.

An amorphous sound palette links the releases, based more on instinct than particulars. It could be something to do with the colourful, psychedelic ideas, or the way in which the tracks tend to find unusual means to their end. It could be to do with bringing artists out of their comfort zone, or the way they fly close to cornerstone UK styles but dip and weave their own way around. Whatever the threads are that weave the curation together, it has created a sonic tapestry that is ever-growing and evolving.

These days, the main series is largely reserved for albums and conceptual records. Club music, from the likes of Overmono, upsammy or Forest Drive West, is released through the Blue sub-label, and there are tapes on the Syon sub-label. Another offshoot, Lith Dolina, launched in January of 2021 with a quietly euphoric compilation of jungle, breakbeat, IDM and electronica.

The mood on AD 93 runs from highbrow electronics like Leif’s meditative film score or SØS Gunver Ryberg’s A/V release"030", to Reckonwrong’s nostalgic songwriting, Coby Sey’s laidback hip hop and spoken-word experiments from Rupert Clervaux. At the other end of the spectrum, Avalon Emerson, Amandra and Bambounou’s recent drops have been proof of how powerful beat-driven gear can be in such a freewheeling mindset. Every now and again, the focus squares up to the dance floor with a hand-stamped, dubplate jab out of nowhere, sharpening the influences from the time spent wandering.

The striking, hyper-detailed artwork is as much a part of the AD 93 identity as the music. With almost all the designs created by art director Alex McCullough, the line which runs through the different records’ graphics is as blurred, unpredictable and inspired as the music in their grooves. For Minor Science’s future-facing LP—which included the whirlwind “Blue Deal,” one of Bleep’s best 100 tracks of 2020—architectural sculptor George Edwards carved into Portuguese limestone. For the limited edition of Lord Of The Isles’ record with Ellen Renton, a laminate sleeve was embossed with extruded verticals. Dylan Henner’s album, which questioned what it is that makes us human, came with an 80-page digital visualization. It seems nothing is off bounds.

  • Artist
    AD 93
    Merch
    House of Borderland
    Label
    AD 93
    Release Date
    26 febbraio 2021

    down the trap in the great cellar, reason seems less to be trusted than instinct

    House of Borderland
    T-shirt designed by Nicola Tirabasso
    Printed on Gildan Ultra Cotton White
    Limited edition of 50

    Size Guide

    XS S M L XL XXL XXXL
    American Apparel
    Chest (inches)
    30–32 34–36 38–40 42–44 46–48 48–50
    Continental
    Width (inches)
    19 ¾ 20 ¾ 22 23 ½ 25 ¼
    Gildan
    Width (inches)
    18 20 22 24 26
    Russell Athletic
    Chest (inches)
    34–36 38–40 42–44 46–48 50–52 54–56

AD 93’s gift for unearthing talent has notably forged the way for some breakout artists. Interdisciplinary artist Venus Ex Machina stepped up a level for an AD 93 album, "Lux", which kicked off this 2021 with a complex tapestry of dark, mathematical soundscapes. The label’s latest signing, Manchester composer Maxwell Sterling, looks set to be the next, with his stunning, post-jazz album "Turn Of Phrase". Yet, this diverse catalogue of rising stars sits comfortably alongside the greats, like ambient pioneer Biosphere, whose 2021 album "Angel’s Flight" put an arctic spin on classical, chamber music.

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