When the New Wave boom ended in the mid 1980's and the British retreat began, XTC's releases didn't make much noise outside of critics praising them to the skies and die hard fans in North America. But back home they were still hard at it putting out records and perfecting their studio sound.
When their contract with Virgin records expired, front man Andy Partridge decided the time was ripe for them to start doing all their own recording and producing discs on their own label. Ape records was the result of years of labour on Andy's part to come to an understanding as how to make the best use of the technology available to the home recording artist.
Long before every kid had a recording studio on his or her laptop Andy was tinkering with the joys of the home studio. Over the years he has accumulated an archive of over 100 songs on tape that included alternative versions of XTC songs, songs that never made it onto albums, demos of songs for the band to hear and learn from, and even better songs that he's finally gone back and completed. Why did he go back to complete them? Well so they could be released as part of a nine disc box set called The Fuzzy Warbles Collectors Album.
Eight of the nine discs have been previously released as Fuzzy Warbles 1 through Fuzzy Warbles 8 while the ninth disc in the package is the nine track Hinges CD only available in this box set. They've also included booklets with each disc wherein Andy takes you through his personal history of home recording.
Now like a lot of us his home recording started with cheap tape decks recording his favourite songs from records and radio. But unlike you and me he didn't give up with that, but started to figure out how he could recreate different sounds and record them; generally exploring the whole range of potential that was available even then for interesting effects.
In later life of course he has machines out the wazoo, but he says he keeps a pair of knitting needles in front of him as a reminder of what his first and still favoured means of percussion was. He wonders about the effect on creativity when kids can just press a button and have an instant drum machine which they can talk over and then call that a song.