Incus Records was established in 1970. Usually it is referred to as, `the first independent, musician - run record company in Britain'. Overlooking one or two short - lived predecessors in the 1950s, that's probably true. Owned and administered by musicians, the policy is centred on improvisation.Tony Oxley had the original idea, Michael Walters put up the money and Derek Bailey and Evan Parker were recruited as co-directors. Since then, Walters, Oxley and Parker have, at different times, left. Many other people have given time to the running of Incus, notably Karen Brookman who, since the mid 1980s, carries out much of the administration and design work.Incus has issued over 100 recordings on formats as various as LPs, EPs, reel to reel tapes, cassettes, CDs and videos.
Although the primary purpose has always been to serve the musical imperatives of the people who run it, Incus has regularly issued albums by other people. Musicians and groups who made their first appearance on record on Incus include Jamie Muir, Steve Beresford, John Russell, Phil Wachsmann, Dennis Palmer, Iskra 1903, The L.J.C.O., Balance, Steve Noble/Alex Maguire Duo, Tony Bevan Trio, Alex Ward/Steve Noble Duo, the Shaking Ray Levis, the John Zorn/Fred Frith Duo, the John Butcher/Vanessa Mackness Duo, the Eugene Chadbourne/John Zorn Duo, the Roger Smith/Neil Metcalfe Duo, the Stefan Jaworzyn/Alan Wikinson Duo and the Geroge Lewis/Bertram Turetzky duo.In all cases, the musicians on a record take part in every aspect of the record's production, not only the music, but artwork, design ideas, production, and the subsequent promotion of the release. Musicians whose original artwork is featured on recent Incus releases include Tony Oxley, John Stevens, Jamie Muir and Dennis Palmer.
Customarily, a record is reprinted once, occasionally twice, and then allowed to rest in peace. Early ambitions to keep the whole catalogue in print proved impractical and the prevalent view now is that when, usually for financial reasons, a choice has to be made between reprinting an old record and making a new one there is really no choice at all.Since about 1980, the number of records kept in print at any one time has usually been between 30 and 40. The records out of print are divided between those that might at some time be re-printed (a number of early LPs have recently been re-issued on CD ) and records which Incus will not be reprinting. In these latter cases, the masters ,publishing rights, artwork etc. are offered to the artists concerned to do with as they wish. Details of the full back catalogue can be found on the European Improvisation internet site at http://www.shef.ac.uk/misc/rec/ps/efi.
The first recording made for Incus was by the then three directors; Tony Oxley, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. It was never issued and the master tapes have, apparently, disappeared. The record which eventually appeared as Incus 1 was ` Topography of the Lungs', recorded by Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Han Bennink on July 13,1970. The master tapes for this have also, apparently, disappeared.Incus 2, the second record, Derek Bailey solo, was recorded in February, 1971; a set of improvisations plus compositions for guitar by Gavin Bryars, Willem Breuker and Misha Mengelberg. This was later re-issued, with a different set of improvisations, as Incus 2(R). These two issues are currently available as CD10.
Subsequently, a further fifty LPs were issued. They included such musical landmarks as the first recording by Iskra 1903 (double album LP 3/4 ), Evan Parker's first recordings with Paul Lytton ( LPs 5 and 14 ) and first four solo records ( LPs 19, 27, 39 and 49 ), the first recording by Barry Guy's L.J.C.O.(double album, LP 6/7), two records by Tony Oxley groups (Incus LPs 8 and 18. T.O. has a group record currently available on CD15). There were three reel to reel tapes of DB solo ( later issued on CD by the Cortical Foundation of California ) and a cassette with dancer Min Tanaka, an EP by AMM, in the form of Eddie Prevost and Lou Gare, and the first set of records by DB's improvisers' ensemble Company' (Company 1 - 7 ) There have since been further records by Company featuring a wide range of musicians, including George Lewis, Vinko Globokar, Fred Frith, Ursula Oppens, Anthony Braxton, Akio Suzuki, Tristan Honsinger, Lol Coxhill, Dave Holland, Buckethead, Lee Konitz, John Zorn, Leo Smith, Steve Beresford, Pat Thomas, Richard Teitelbaum, Steve Lacy, Vanessa Mackness, Maarten Altena, Alexander Balanescu, Paul Haines, Will Gaines and many more.
The Incus vaults hold many so far unissued tapes and videos but its not known when, if ever, they might appear. Our preference is for new or recent recordings and there are usually too many of these in the pipeline to allow us time for rummaging around in the archives.