Once upon a time, there was an actual Ed Banger sound, spearheaded by Pedro Winter’s Parisian label and its most prized producers like SebastiAn and Justice, this sound took the label — and its ragtag group of DJs and producers — far and wide. Along the way, they reintroduced a lapsed American audience to the world of dance music and generally made dance music cool again. Ostensibly, the Ed Banger sound was a gritty form of cinematic electro that incorporated elements of house, disco, techno and baroque with bags of personality and flair, it was such a refreshing take on dance music and it still is today. The label quickly became the sound of a generation, and whilst those halcyon days of Bloghaus (cringe) are pretty much long gone, Ed Banger has matured into a multi-faceted label that includes clothing, clever synergies with other cool brands, and an incredibly successful publishing arm that has seen some of Ed Bangers most iconic tracks cropping up in numerous TV shows and computer games over the years.
14 years since opening its doors, the Parisian label is in rude health once again. Last year saw album’s from Ed Rec mainstays Mr Oizo, Breakbot, Cassius and Justice, and there were of course EPs from the likes of Borussia, Fulgeance and Boston Bun, too. For the label’s fourteenth birthday and its 100th release, Pedro Winter has managed to get one track from everyone on the label (even SebastiAn) for a celebratory compilation. And whilst that famed Ed Banger sound can still be heard on tracks like Boys Noize’s remix of Justice’s ‘Randy’, the compilation’s overall timbre encompasses everything from Breakbot’s proto-funk on ‘Mystery’ to electro oddities from Mr Oizo. Then there’s slickly produced house from Para One and Borussia, and pretty much everything in-between from the likes of Feadz, Riton and 10lec6.
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Highlights are plentiful with Cassius’ vision of ‘Ibifornia’ very much still in their mind’s eye with their suave-sounding contribution ‘Fame’, which is all slick disco percussion and glassy melodies. The biggest disappointment by far comes from SebastiAn, who after an extended hiatus delivers a rather drab cut of r&b that features a vocal that repeats the phrase ‘Huge Vagina’ over and over; classic SebastiAn trolling, then. The outro is pretty damn cool, though. Grammy-nominated Riton delivers another club stomper in the form of his version of Paul McCartney’s ‘Temporary Secretary’, and Pedro Winter delivers the goods with his recently released single, ‘Genie’, which is still on heavy rotation on our office stereo to this day.
In our book, there are two types of labels in this world: sheep who follow sounds and trends and shepherds who guide said sheep to pastures new. In 2017, Ed Banger is neither. It’s a label that does what it wants and when it wants and that’s what makes it so appealing even to this day. So that Ed Banger sound is long gone, but what we’re left with is a label that grants complete artistic freedom to its artists, there’s no deadlines, no rules, no sales targets; just an incredibly talented bunch of musicians — backed by a visionary label manager and So-Me’s iconic artistic direction — doing what they do best: making music without paying too much attention to what everyone else is doing. And for our money, the label’s output is better and more wide-ranging than its ever been before.
Happy birthday, Ed Banger Records.
Listen to Ed Rec 100 here.