Review Summary: Fade into the unknown
As EDM continues to occupy a comfortable sector of the mainstream with its overtly melodic, imitation aggressive qualities and bombastic elasticity, a number of underground producers are taking the skeleton of electronic music and shifting it upside down to eerie, subterranean, and bizarre new levels. Highlighting these ghastly low lit electro chambers are the likes of Emptyset, Deadbeat, Silent Servant, Prurient, Lee Gamble, Ron Morelli, and Container who, while each existing within their own distinct sound worlds, bury their demonic play on 4/4 in immersive shades of dark with a heavy emphasis of space and atmosphere. Amongst these sonic underlords is Delroy Edwards who weaves obsolete technology, a minimal recording style, psychotic noise bursts, and a foreboding mask of uncertainty around his debut, Teenage Tapes
, to a point where his music doesn’t restrain itself to any single mood, template, or fashion of electronic music.
The sonic ambiguity surrounding Teenage Tapes
naturally spills over to the tracklist, featuring eight cuts anonymously filed A1, A2, A3, etc. The penetrative buzzing of power lines immediately fills ear buds on the opener ‘A1’ as it sustains a cold and rhythmless drone throughout its duration, foreshadowing the chaotic noise to come. Before long Edwards’ transports the listener to an eerie and static woven industrial zone on ‘A2’ that evokes imagery of the dense and smokey concrete landscapes of Terminator 2 as it tunnels through the T-800’s oversaturated red viewpoint, vigorously hunting out its next victim. Following judgment day, ‘A3’ continues the hunt down with grimy Casio looped rhythms and sneering villainous synth chords that provoke further incidental pictures, such as roaming the dark and desolate halls of DOOM while helplessly remaining moments away from certain death.
Side B of Teenage Tapes
begins by extracting any hint of subdued insanity on Side A and, quite literally, crushes it within a vacuuming onslaught of hysterical harsh noise as Edwards himself can occasionally be heard screaming through the intense walls of static. Compared to the rest of the record’s desolate, crippled, and unconvential interludes (A1, A4, B3) ‘B1’ is, perhaps on purpose, too jaded and blatant of an expression on a record that’s soul is so rooted within the hidden and obscured realms of memory and consciousness. Following the assault is the crude acidic funk of ‘B2’ which is, consequently, a purely rhythmic exercise as the heat of ‘B1’ strips Edwards of his dystopian atmosphere. Edwards chooses to close out Teenage Tapes
at his most relaxed and delicate on ‘B4’, effortlessly channeling warm lo-fi grooves alongside a series of reflective drones that bring back personal memories that are as faint and subtle as playing Super Hang-On on Sega Genesis many years ago. Although instead of this memory being a first person experience of the game, I’m a figureless entity watching a former shadow of myself from a distance; lost and aching within the obscurities of memory.
Whether or not the subdued and treacherous angles being explored by Delroy Edwards and a number of other similarly focused producers can be heard as a larger comment of distrust and disapproval of the current hygienic bombast of electronic dance music would be difficult to say. Perhaps it’s a mixture of this ideal alongside the fruition of their own head space and awareness of the world around them. In a musical landscape that currently thrives on cleanliness, purity, exaggeration, and momentarily pleasing electronic music, it’s refreshing to see a producer like Delroy Edwards tapping into the cerebral qualities of electronic music. By threading his sounds through obsolete technology and giving his recordings distance and space tangled within a stunning sense of atmosphere, Teenage Tapes
continually makes for a listening experience that’s simultaneously danceable, foreboding, nostalgic, and thought-provoking.