Warp Records is an indie British label that’s been kicking around since 89’, fostering obscure and experimental artists and giving them a way to get their music heard on a larger stage. Nine years after their founding, Warp released the album I’m going to be talking about today. We are Reasonable People is nearing its twentieth anniversary of release, which makes it the perfect time to talk about it.
Even with a runtime four seconds shy of a full hour, We Are Reasonable People doesn’t waste any time with its music. It’s a compilation album, picked from Warp’s catalogue with care to introduce thirteen different artists. There are some weaker parts in it, which are mainly scattered through the second half, but the songs that shine really shine.
The highlight of the album (to me) is the first track “Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid.” It’s a collaboration song between Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, two of my favorite artists from Warp. It’s got a complex rhythm that’s mangled up, sliced, looped, and repeated throughout the song, making for a five and three-quarter minutes beat that’s sensationally groovy. Layered over that is a reverberating repeating synth line that adds texture and depth on top of the offshoots of drums. It’s been included in Aphex Twin’s top ten songs. The first time I heard it I had to stop what I was doing to listen.
After the first track, the album twists and turns through music, it goes from harsh techno immediately to a smooth electronic rock song by Boards of Canada, then to experimental jazz, and back again. It’s got tracks by Autechre, Plaid, and Nightmares on Wax, more great artists. I love this album quite a bit, so much that I own a vintage copy on vinyl. If you haven’t listened to it yet, (because let’s face it, it’s not exactly the hot 100,) I highly recommend it. It’s a solid album, and a great introduction to the world of experimental music.