A Dusted Review: Teenage Tapes by D. Edwards (March 24th, 2014)

Delroy Edwards is best known for his seductive yet stripped-down house concoctions for labels such as L.I.E.S. and L.A. Club Resource. You won’t hear much of that on Teenage Tapes, his debut “album” which sees the light on the aptly-named (and Boomkat-affiliated) Death of Rave. Connoisseurs of Edwards’ music have always known that there was more to him than a desire to get bottoms shaking on the dance floor, but surely even that awareness will do little to prepare for the gnarly sounds that bubble out of these two sides of vinyl.

First things first — the fact that this record is being promoted as an album is beyond ridiculous and tantamount to mockery of anyone who actually gives a shazam about what the word “album” means. Clocking in at a miserly 29 minutes, Teenage Tapesis, and I cannot be too emphatic about this, NOT an album. It’s an EP, or at best a mini-album, and to advertise it as anything else, given the price of vinyl, is little more than contemptuous on The Death of Rave’s part. Rant over.

It’s all the more of a shame, because Edwards’ bedroom experiments have a lot going for them, but are immediately hamstrung by perceptions. As limited as the music on Teenage Tapes is, Edwards still comes across as an adolescent ingenue, drinking in a wealth of styles and refracting them through the prism of his bedroom window. With a bit more time to absorb these refractions, one might have been able to find hidden layers of meaning.

On an album of such a short running time, however, the standouts were bound to be the long ones, especially when Edwards cracks out the drum machine and indulges in what he’s perhaps best at: beats. The third track (they’re all untitled), marries grim synthetic noise with juddering beats, halfway between William Bennet’s Cut Hands project and the dance floor. The closer, “Untitled 8” I guess, has a jerky bass pulse that’s straight out of the UK post-punk scene, whilst the sixth track sounds like a minimal techno exercise, only shorter.

The other, shorter, sketches ping between moody ambience and gristly noise, with the fifth track sounding as headily brutal as a Werewolf Jerusalem CD, only — once again — shorter.

I’m reminded of the two archival releases by erstwhile Skullflower guitarist Stefan Jaworzyn, both released this year. Like Teenage Tapes, they collate the archival works of a noted underground player, recorded when said individual was barely out of short trousers. But where Eaten Away By Shadows and Drained of Connotationdisplay a prescience and innovative spirit way beyond Jaworzyn’s age of the time,Teenage Tapes often feels unfinished or stunted.

I’m sure a great many musical wannabe has, in his or her spare time, dabbled with arcane synths and random noise generators. Stefan Jaworzyn shows how potent this naive experimentation can be. But, more often than not, such exercises are best consigned to memory, which is something Delroy Edwards probably should have born in mind when he stumbled across these teenage tapes.

I’m not saying these are bad sounds, no matter how ridiculous Death of Rave have been in selling Teenage Tapes as an album, but one has to wonder what point is served by presenting them to the world.

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