Incus Records was set up in 1970 by Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley, Evan Parker, and Michael Walters. It was the first independent, musician-run record company in Britain. Its independence extended to its releases which were always centred on improvisation. Incus has issued over 100 recordings on diverse formats including an EP, LPs, reel to reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, CD-Rs, videos and DVDs. After Evan Parker left the label in the late 80s, Incus was run by Bailey and his partner Karen Brookman who did much of the administration and design work.
Evan Parker's Psi label, formed in 2001, has re-released many of Parker's own Incus releases on CD notaby The London Concert by the duo of Bailey and Parker, and Incus's very first LP The Topography of the Lungs recorded by Bailey and Parker with Han Bennink. Since Derek Bailey's death on Christmas Day 2005, Incus has largely been dormant, with no new releases.
Now comes the good news that Karen Brookman is returning Incus Records to active service. The label's first release, Incus CD 57, is a remastered re-issue of Lot 74, a Bailey solo guitar recording from 1974 previously only available on a long-out-of-print LP. Coming soon is The Barcelona Chronicles, a package of two DVDs and one CD documenting Bailey's time in Barcelona after he relocated there is 2003, a period when he adopted a new approach to playing guitar whilst dealing with the complex and progressive limitations caused by Motor Neurone Disease.
Karen Brookman says that future Incus releases will not exclusively feature Bailey. She has plans to also release new music by other artists. Brookman has worked hard to revamp the Incus website, and it is now a valuable resource for fans of the music, including writings about Bailey, Company and Incus, as well as photographs and archive materials. The site also catalogues many Bailey releases, which can be purchased directly from Incus. Brookman is also planning Incus evenings" at Cafe Oto, including musicians who recorded for the label.
One thing is certain: the improvised music scene in London will be all the better for the return of Incus Records.