Pitchfork (Website) - "There are dark sounds here, and dense layers of lo-fi fuzz that reward repeat listens. The way Edwards weaves more abstract moments with passages of pure retro-pop gives the album the feel of a lost soundtrack."
Recording information: Los Angeles, CA.
Delroy Edwards released his first few 12"s on former co-worker Ron Morelli's trendsetting L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) label, so it's almost inevitable that he's been tagged as "outsider house" ever since. Most of his subsequent releases, which he's often issued via his own L.A. Club Resource, have maintained the hissy, lo-fi quality of his dance 12"s, but have little if anything to do with house or techno. Released by distributor Boomkat's experimental imprint The Death of Rave in 2014, Teenage Tapes contained Edwards' industrial-leaning early work, while his Slowed Down Funk mixtapes reflected his love for hip-hop and R&B. His first official full-length, 2016's Hangin' at the Beach, clocks in at an astounding 30 tracks and is more difficult to categorize than anything else he's done. The title is misleading, as this album sounds like something that was recorded by one person trapped at home on a day when it was too hot to go outside and none of his friends were interested in doing anything. One murky, abstract track is called "Surf's Up!," but the title is about as mismatched as the cover art to the similarly named Beach Boys album. By the sound of a lot of these tracks (particularly the perfectly titled "Crime Spree"), it sounds like Edwards spent several months (or years) watching cruddy old videotapes of '80s action movies or cop shows and trying to replicate their soundtracks using Casio keyboards and other cheap, battery-powered instruments. Much of the album features racing new wave-inspired electronic drums and occasional post-punk basslines, with songs like "Blood Boiled" sounding like he's playing along to a Bauhaus record in his bedroom. More angular moments like "Looking for a Fight" point to early Devo as an influence, or maybe even the Residents. One of the few tracks to approach a solid 4/4 beat is titled "Horsing Around," and this seems to represent his flippant attitude at being labeled a house producer. "Powerhouse" samples the ubiquitous Raymond Scott tune of the same name, and many other tracks have a similarly cartoonish tone. Yet there's also room for more heartfelt melodies on tracks like "I Love Sloane." "Empty Pools" drowns nervous, Suicide-like electronics in gallons of tape hiss, and "Safe Places, Pt. 2" sounds like a homemade re-creation of Fennesz's ultra-glitchy "Before I Leave" (with a much shorter attention span). Hangin' at the Beach will likely confuse anyone familiar with Edwards' prior output, or anyone who happens to stumble upon the album with no expectations, but that might be the point. The album is clearly the product of the artist's singular vision rather than anything created with commercial expectations, and while certain listeners might find it indulgent or amateur-sounding, give it a chance and it might prove to be a rewarding, amusing listen. ~ Paul Simpson