- When Justice DJed in Chicago recently, the duo were accompanied by Ed Banger Records’ doofy-looking label head, Busy P, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Ed Banger crest. That didn’t seem noteworthy until I listened to the similarly stamped compilation, ‘Ed Rec Vol. 2’. Unlike their previous label comp (released only digitally and as a CDR) which explored genres freely, ‘Vol. 2’ shares a common aesthetic which more and more critics and fans have dubbed the “Ed Banger sound”: house music spliced together from roughly hewn chunks and skuzzy distortion. It seems Ed Banger is trying to be more than a record label, but a comprehensive lifestyle brand.
Who can blame them? Though the label was launched in early 2003, it didn’t make a dent on dance floors until the one-two punch of Justice’s brilliantly brusque ‘Waters of Nazareth’ in 2005 and the ubiquitous resurgence of ‘Never Be Alone’ as ‘We Are Your Friends’ early last year. These (along with a newfound appreciation for Daft Punk’s ‘Human After All’) spawned hordes of imitators, many of whom underestimated the skill needed to pull off the sound successfully, of which some ended up on Ed Banger’s roster. Hipper than Jesus wearing glowing Chucks in dance and rock circles, the revered and now commercially viable EB became a brand name which prompted self-conscious maintenance.
This isn’t to say Busy P is breathing down SebastiAn’s neck to “Durrr harder!” or anything, but the roster seems particularly willing to interpret the examples set by Justice as well as new signee Mr. Oizo. Some tracks follow more closely than others: Busy P’s ‘Rainbow Man’ simply loops a few notes from Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ and plows away at listeners’ eardrums, while SebastiAn’s unusually constructed ‘Greel’ is nearly industrial in its grinding repetitions. Krazy Baldhead (‘Strings of Death’ sounds like Rage Against the Machine using Ableton) and Vicarious Bliss (‘Limousine’, likewise, but the Velvet Underground) offer rockier reiterations of the aesthetic, while DJ Medhi and Feadz inject hip-hop influences and electro’s neon melodies into the model (‘Lucky Girl’ and ‘Edwrecker’). Mr. Flash’s ‘Eagle Eyez’ snippet is the only tune to avoid the form, offering instead a ridiculous new wave sample over stuttering beats. And while about half of these examples are decent enough tunes, the rest fall flat on the skip button.
It’s not uncommon for labels to have an overarching umbrella of style under which their artists reside; obviously these factors often determine who gets released where. In the case of ‘Ed Rec Vol. 2’ and the label at large, though, the desire to reprise the EB’s most successful acts (Justice’s still stunning and oft-repeated ‘Phantom’ is easily the comp’s best track) hasn’t always translated into striking original tunes. It’s stripped a diverse and mostly talented stable of their individual appeal in favor of solidarity, to the benefit of the brand. Nevertheless, I’m sure fans won’t be throwing away their Ed Banger apparel, even if not all of the label’s releases have the same roaring appeal.
1. Mr Oizo - Intra
2. Uffie - Dismissed
3. Justice - Phantom
4. DJ Mehdi - Stick It
5. Mr Flash - Disco Dynamite
6. Krazy Baldhead - Strings of Death
7. Feadz – Edwrecker
8. Busy P - 49 ers
9. DJ Mehdi - Lucky Girl
10. Busy P - Rainbow Man
11. Mr Flash - Eagle Eyez
12. SebastiAn - Greel
13. Klaxons - Golden Skans to Interzones - So Me remix
14. Vicarious Bliss – Limousine