Ten Records I Wish I'd Released by Lex Records' Tom Brown...
For an idea of the label's truly eclectic roster, check out their tenth anniversary compilation Complex which includes exclusives from DOOM, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Neon Neon, JJ DOOM, Dave Sitek and a new group, Stalactite. Lex have also played a central role in the rise to fame of super producer and artist Danger Mouse, handling the promo-only bootleg The Grey Album in 2004 and DANGERDOOM The Mouse And The Mask in 2005. Gnarls Barkley's hit 'Crazy' also came out in 2006 with Lex branding. For more on the label's history, there's a detailed timeline on their website. For now, here's Tom's selection of records he'd have happily added to his catalogue. Naturally, it's a diverse list, running from John Maus to Beck...
Words: Tom Brown
I started Lex in 2001, when I was still working at Warp. From 2003 onwards Lex has released 3 or 4 albums per year. That year they were Non-Prophets' Hope, Danger Mouse & Jemini's Ghetto Pop Life and an odd self-titled record by Hymie's Basement. That mix of rap and experimentalism set the tone for future output.
Although we've got a reputation for leftfield hip hop we have always tried to support artistic development rather than trying to fit artists into a scene. Doseone's band Subtle had a series of three really well received genre-avoiding albums and Fog went from turntable experiments to heavy rock with Ditherer. In 2008 we released Neon Neon's eighties-pop-meets-noughties-crunk debut Stainless Style, which received a Mercury nomination. In 2010 our first project with the legendary Alan Moore and photographer and filmmaker Mitch Jenkins Unearthing was released.
Ten years on the label still has the same core artists. In 2011 we had Boom Bip's Zig Zaj and Danger Mouse's Rome. This year we are most excited about the new JJ DOOM album, which will be out this summer.
1. MF DOOM - Operation Doomsday (1999)
Two years before I started Lex, DOOM released Doomsday. Putting out a homemade masterpiece like this would be amazing. It felt like Doomsday was on everyone's radar really quickly and everyone wanted a piece. He dropped a verse on Prefuse73's debut album while I was at Warp in 2001 and then his first verse with Danger Mouse on the Prince Poetry album in 2004. After that, we signed him for DANGERDOOM and then on a long-term deal. Every album has felt really different to the others, but out of those I didn't release, Operation Doomsday would be the one I'd most like to have on Lex. His latest album with Jneiro Jarel is breaking new ground and he's still my favourite MC.
2. Edan - Primitive Plus (2002)
Edan sold me a demo of this at Scribble Jam in 2001. We listened to it in Boom Bip's car that night. I saw him the next day and pleaded with him to put it out through my brand new label but he'd already agreed to work with Mike Lewis. Mike did an amazing job but I was always jealous that it wasn't on Lex. Listen to 'Emcees Smoke Crack'.
3. Department Of Eagles - The Cold Nose (2003)
Doseone first told me to check out Department Of Eagles. I think they'd opened for Dose's band Subtle on tour. Back when I was still at Warp I got their album, got in touch and we discussed the details of a deal. I loved the songs, like 'The Horse You Ride'. There were also really cool sample-based tracks with no lyrics but the sung songs were amazing. I wanted them to record more and re-release an album of material like that. We didn't do a deal, but Warp eventually signed Daniel and Chris as part of an expanded Grizzly Bear line up.
4. AFX - Analord (2005)
Every Aphex Twin album is worth owning and I'd love to have released any of them. I'll pick Analord, because it's the only Aphex album to come out while Lex has been in existence. The full version is over three hours, so you can get lost in it for a whole afternoon. I'm not sure if it's true, but I like the idea that these are ancient recordings from the 1990s that eventually surfaced. Listen to 'Boxing Day'.
5. John Maus - Love Is Real (2007)
Any Maus album would do. Since I was turned on to this by Lex artist Drew Brown a couple of years ago, there can't have been a week that's gone by without a John Maus album on the stereo. Epic and electronic; like Italo disco with amazing lyrics.
6. Florrible and Misrabella - Someone Spilt Snakebite On My Espadrille (2008)
At the start of 2008 we were talking to managers about releasing this EP by Florence and Isabella. We'd seen Florence play a few times in Highgate and bumped into Isabella at the gigs. We loved the EP but the deal got tricky to do and in the end the deal didn't happen. I don't know what ever became of them after that, poor things. Listen to 'Little Donkey'.
7. Beck - Modern Guilt (2008)
I had as much chance of putting this out as any other Beck album (i.e. none) but it was amazing hearing one of my favourite singers with Danger Mouse production behind him. It sounded like something that could be on Lex. Sea Change is my favourite Beck album and Modern Guilt felt like it had hung on to some of the melancholy of that era. Listen to 'Chemtrails'.
8. Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996)
9. Actress - R.I.P. (2012)
This is my favourite album of the year. It's so fresh and confident. It doesn't sound like it's pandering to anyone. Just an amazing album. I can't wait to hear what he does next.
10. Danger Mouse & Jemini - Kill Your Heroes (Unreleased)
After Ghetto Pop Life, Danger Mouse & Jemini carried on recording. The tracks were notionally for an album called Kill Your Heroes. The business side was all sorted and the tracks are bangers, but with one thing and another Brian and Thomas never handed over the final master. Two of those songs have been snuck out though. 'The Sh!t' came out on in 2004, tucked away on the b-side of the 'Twenty Six Inch EP' and the next year 'Knuckle Sandwich II' was on our label sampler. There's around another 15 tracks that haven't been released yet. Listen to 'The Sh!t'.
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