With Daft Punk seducing the charts with Random Access Memories, this compilation celebrating 10 years of the Ed Banger label is timely. Ed Banger boss Pedro Winter was Daft Punk’s manager before he quit to focus on his own label in 2008, and the artists featured here all share with Messrs Homem-Christo and Bangalter a love of smooth party electronica.
Ed Rec, Vol. X is, for an anniversary compilation, a bold record. Where other labels might try to give their lesser-known artists a boost by including them alongside big sellers, Winter showcases new tracks from across the label. After all, we’ve heard Justice’s “Waters Of Nazareth” and “D.A.N.C.E.” enough times, right? As Winter tells it, “My main goal is to keep challenging myself. We are an alternative label, we are free to go where we want.”
This forward-thinking approach doesn’t get off to the best of starts. “Intro X” uses a retro soul swagger to introduce the album, with robot voices adding insults to everyone’s names: “DJ Retarded Feadz,” “Busy Cocksucker P.” Still, that locker-room low means that the Krazy Baldhead’s brittle and bright “My Soul Is Like A Tree” and the Brian Wilson-on-a-sunbed funk of Breakbot’s “The Beach” give greater joy by comparison.
Ed Banger’s mission statement is to kick up a party wherever Winter lays his box-fresh baseball cap. For every 1:30 a.m. rouser — Mr. Oizo redeems himself for helming that terrible opening skit with the twitchy, trebly “Secam” — there’s party hip-hop via Winter’s own Busy P moniker and sophisticated disco funk in the form of tracks like Justice’s “Brainvision MMXIII,” where female coos glide above a velvet piston of a rhythm.
There’s more to the label than nocturnal abandon, of course. Cassius’s “Sunchild” is one of the most interesting tracks here, subtly building around a simple, solid bassline, while So Me’s “Typical Footprints” is another experimental high. It all ends beautifully with Sebastian’s “Moi,” a twisted modern take on French chanson, complete with dramatic strings, brass fanfare and high-tragedy lyrics. Apparently this is just a demo version of the track, which bodes well for another 10 years of fruity behavior from one of France’s finest labels.