Bella Union Vinyl, CD & tapes from this label at Norman Records
In 1997, after a couple of decades as the world’s premier dream-pop act, Cocteau Twins were winding down. One of the last things that core members Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde did before the group split up was form their own label. Initially envisaged as a home for new Cocteau material, the venture they named Bella Union has actually spent the subsequent years growing into one of the biggest independent record imprints out there.
Run solely by Raymonde since the turn of the century, Bella Union scored a big win early on by signing Warren Ellis’ Dirty Three for 2000’s ‘Whatever You Love, You Are’. The band have remained on the label ever since. Bella Union continued at a steady pace for a few years, broadly focussing on more earthy forms of indie-rock/adjacent genres and releasing records by Dustin O’Halloran, Howling Bells and Explosions In The Sky.
However, it wasn’t until its second decade that Bella Union broke into the big leagues. The turning point was surely Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut LP (2008), a set of folkish close-harmonising that achieved near-ubiquity at the time. Fleet Foxes have also provided Bella Union with another enormously successful act in the form of J. Tillman/Father John Misty.
Subsequent years have seen Bella Union go from strength to strength. Their continuing interest in the folksier/prettier/dreamier end of the alternative music spectrum is evidenced by signings like Beach House, Marissa Nadler and Lanterns On The Lake, but their output has also expanded to include savants such as John Grant and Xiu Xiu as well as the contemporary classical types Peter Broderick and John Taverner. They like to pick up oddballs too - see The Flaming Lips, Zun Zun Egui and Clarence Clarity in this regard.