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Of course it's impossible to say what the current musical landscape would have looked like if Output recordings hadn't begun life in 1996, back when information moved around a bit slower, and when the musical underground seemed like it was more than just a feeder pool for mobile phone ads.
Back then, when the dance press was all about Superclubs and DJs in jacuzzis, and eclecticism meant throwing an acid track in with the latest Bentley Rhythm Ace hottie, Output began life with a burst of smoky instrumental hip hop, some spacey post rock and edgy electronica - sometimes all at once as in the case of the iconic Four Tet's (Kieran Hebden's) 1998's epic debut "Thirty Six Twenty Five" - and by release number five had released it's first 7 inch by the band FRIDGE. As we sit here in the late Noughties with the 7 inch as the fastest growing format of the last year, it's easy to forget now how different it felt in 1996, a thing of the musical past that was about to become part of the future again thanks to the likes of Trevor Jackson and Output.
And it wasn't just past formats that Output was playing with whilst casually inventing the future, Gramme's 1997 debut 7 inch "Mine" (a post punk funk disco jam) helped set in motion a musical force that has yet to peak, let alone end. From the jointly DFA / Output released Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, through to Franz Ferdinand, Tom Vek, !!!, CSS, Gossip, Klaxons, Foals and a thousand other post punk / new rave hopefuls, Output's role as forbearers of the angular, art school funk aesthetic that still dominates today is unquestioned.
Of course history is littered with the half remembered names of the innovators, the ones that took the chances and then moved on, as oblivious to the commercial value of a movement whilst they walk away from it, as they were when they helped start it. Trevor Jackson's parting statement when Output closed was full of negativity and bitterness (the total opposite of the enthusiasm and positivity that forced him to create the label in the first place), his love of the music drained from him as the industry bullshit closed in; but that was in 2006, the dust is settling, now we're just left with the music.
Output's final release in late 2007 was a 3 disc retrospective, which included a genre-defying cross selection of underground innovative music from the previous ten years, thirty tracks out of the 100 releases and 300+ track catalogue, from the glistening folktronica of Four Tet, the era defining Nu Wave disco of Jackson's own Playgroup outfit, the timeless beauty of Circlesquares '7 Minutes', Colder's classic 'To the Music', DK7's dancefloor bombs, Mu's genius electro trash 'Paris Hilton'... It goes on. Alongside the double music CD came a DVD with 37(!) video shorts, (mostly never seen before, some made specially for this release), created by directors as diverse as the legendary Abel Ferrare photographers Jason Evans and Donald Christie as well as mr JACKSON himself, a fitting visual testament to a label who's true legacy, as Mao said in the 1950's of the French of Revolution 150 years earlier, is yet to be seen.
Output is now closed. There will not be any more releases on the label, but the music of the innovators continues on labels such as Process, DFA, Mahuta, !K7 and others. Output's catalog of 100 of the most innovative releases from around the Turn of the Century is now looked after by the Musiqware label group.