D. Edwards, Teenage Tapes

[The Death Of Rave]

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There’s no “4 Club Use Only” on Teenage Tapes. Let’s get that out of the way. Nothing here comes close to replicating that club-shaking debut from Delroy Edwards; not in terms of impact, track length, or ability to incite bouts of severe introverted mania. Further still, there’s not much here that calls to mind anything we’ve seen from the young Los Angeles producer since his 2012 arrival. Whereas most of his oeuvre has been scattershot ghetto house, low-slung and slickly chaotic, this long-player from Boomkat offshoot The Death Of Rave finds Edwards servicing discord of a different degree. Gone are anthemic highs, in their place a morose dispassion “owing more to Minimal Wave, Noise, EBM and Black Metal,” according to the accompanying press release.

There are two rational explanations for the tonal shift. First, the label association. In the two years since its inception, The Death Of Rave has lived up to its onerous namesake, bleeding difficult and obtuse productions from a cast of already difficult and obtuse producers. In the process, they’ve racked up a murderous catalog and a reputation as a halfway house for miscreants to further abandon restrictions. A closer examination of this record’s title reveals the other likely reason why this sounds unlike anything he’s ever released. It bears the name Teenage Tapes because half of the album’s eight selections were recorded when Edwards was a teenager — working predominantly with guitar pedals and reel-to-reel tape while in art school, to be more precise. The other four cuts are more recent efforts, crafted using a SH-101 and cobbled together here to create a full-length that often feels disjointed. Given his barbed and shrouded persona, one can only assume the muddling to be intentional.

There’s a distinct mixtape feel to Teenage Tapes. Obviously the divergent recording dates and methods have the largest effect on this, but there’s also the lack of proper track titles and an already-sold-out limited pressing that lends some DIY pathos. And as teased by the press release, there’s more than a couple of genres referenced herein. At its most vile, there’s the shunted noise of B1 and B3, clear products of those guitar peddles and a hearty collegial intake of Whitehouse. Shards and all, it’s those cuts, along with the curt chug of A4, that form a properly ridged skeleton for the less abrasive offerings to writhe throughout. Despite owning rather stock drum cadence, A3 leaves a lasting impression thanks to the underpinning, bloodcurdling synth whine, which wouldn’t sound out of place at the climax of a early John Carpenter effort. B2 is bestial panache. And B4 is a Suicide send-up, a groggy outro that (unsurprisingly) sounds like nothing that precedes it.

A fair stylistic counterpart, on a number of operable levels, would be Spit, the 2013 debut LP from Edwards’ L.I.E.S. leader, Ron Morelli. Morelli sought release on a label outside his own and abandoned his unrestrained hardware jams in favor of more brunt offerings. And if there was a knock to be had against Spit, it’s that the tracks felt like sketches, rarely fleshed out to full thoughts. All those notes could be drawn to Teenage Tapes as well. Above all else, however, both succeed in levying a palpable vibe that their creators are operating alone, bent on shaping listeners to their terms. Given the collection’s disordered lineage, it’d be foolish to use it to infer Edwards’ next move, though we suspect he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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