EDMX – Cerberus review

It’s heartening to be reminded of some of the truly steadfast producers of electronic music; those who have been doggedly honing their craft for years while the fads, trends and hype of myriad sub genres dally around them. Ed Upton’s backwards-glancing celebrations of all things electro have turned out to be ahead of the curve rather than behind it as all and sundry start name-checking Drexciya and claiming their toddler years as being soundtracked by Underground Resistance.

It’s also interesting to note the labels that have snapped up Ed’s wares beyond his roots in the Rephlex stable and his own Breakin imprint. In more recent years, Jamal Moss’ Mathematics, Skweee stable Flogsta Dancehall and future-minded 2-step imprint Frijsfo Beats have all released Ed’s wares; proof if it were needed that he exists outside the fickle flow of popular electronic music.

Now this latest serving comes courtesy of Power Vacuum, whose previous (and first) release was the Juno Plus office favourite Corrosion Control by Bintus, and let it be said that the title track should come with some kind of safety warning. Named after the Greek mythological beast that kept the inhabitants of the Underworld at bay, it’s safe to say this track wouldn’t let anyone slip past unscathed. Removed from Ed’s usual warm and funky excursions, this is primal, stony faced techno at its finest. The kick thuds out with a mechanical note behind it, while the gravelly snare spits with the slightest touch of swing, leaving it to a few choice machine gun rattles at the break. Once that gun fires into the rest of the track for a jackhammer mid-range percussion, there’s little hope of survival. Let this track be a lesson to all those who think they know how to make dry, beat focused techno, because this is a shining example of how the coldest music can still be fun.

“I’m Rushing My Tits Off” is marginally lighter in tone, heading back to rhythmic territory more in line with Ed’s electro tendencies. That kick/bass combination is still fearsome, but it’s offset by hooky touches of melodic percussion and an eventual sideline in maudlin pads. The sloppily vocodered announcement of the track title is all that’s needed to crack a grin in the tense circumstances, and all is well in the dance. As something of an antithesis to the serious weight of the first two tracks, “Orange Squash” comes on positively breezy with its more refined acid house stylings. The 303 line is one that earliest Daft Punk would have been mightily proud of, while the funk of the jacking beat is quite simply irresistible. As with all good acid house it’s a straightforward case of the same refrain getting tweaked mercilessly for five minutes, and it’s executed perfectly.

As ever, the pleasure to be drawn from Ed’s music is in its simplicity; the true reward of the analogue way. There are no airs and graces here, just direct and pure productions with enough humour even in the most grumpy of tracks to entice you in, until you’re shaking your fist to the kind of beats that might never normally reach you.

Oli Warwick 


Tracklisting:

1. Cerberus
2. I’m Rushing My Tits Off
3. Orange Squash