This compilation from Because Music (home to Metronomy, among others) documents, as its title suggests, the French electronic music scene as of our fine year of 2009. Through 16 “rare or exclusive” tracks, we’re introduced to a host of presumably very hip producers “tipped for great things in 2009″. Ostensibly, these are supposed to be artists who have refused to be pigeonholed; they’ve supposedly rejected confinement to both the dancefloor and the home, to both floor-filling and intelligence. That’s not really the feeling you get from the music here though – whilst you might reasonably expect a wide spectrum of material from out-and-out club music to a smattering of more oblique IDM, for example, that’s not really the case. Whilst still admittedly varied, this a compilation which broadly speaking, is squarely aimed for club dancefloors. There’s not a great deal of electronic subtlety in evidence – this is all throbbing beats and colourful synths, which is all very well – but it’s not quite the broad cross-section of French electronica it might paint itself as being.
Nevertheless, this is a generous helping of enjoyable dance music. At a touch over an hour, there’s quite a lot to listen to here. Highlights will be different for everyone, depending on how much vocals mean to you. One of the most overtly songful tracks is Anoraak’s ‘Make it Better’, which fits nicely into the 1980s revival we seem to be having. Closer to the other end of the spectrum is Danger’s rather daftly-titled ’88:88 – Stage 3 “The Club” (Danger Edit)’ with its interlocking, staggered beats and synths, and the minimal techno of Spitzer’s ‘Odessa (Spring Version)’. The compilation’s opening pairing of Breakbot’s ‘Penelope Pitstop’ and Donovan’s (no, not that one) ‘Wonderland’ is one of its best moments, especially the heavily processed, yearning vocals of the latter, bouyant song.
Not everything is good though. Standout duffer is probably Djedotronic’s ‘James’, a schizophrenic mess of aimless synth fragments and irritatingly manic vocals. Together with StereoHeroes’ ‘Lamborghini Lungz’, another track with borrowed hip hop vocals, it contributes to the compilation’s less interesting and more frustrating aspect, especially given the latter track’s jarring vocal hook of “fuck ‘em, fuck ‘em, we just like ‘em, we don’t love ‘em.” Quite.
In all honesty, although Edges is generally good, I’m a little confused as to who would seek this out. Yes there are lots of people who like this kind of music – but is French electronica really that distinctive, or worth buying compilations of? Edges only goes a certain way towards convincing me of this, but if you’re in the market for a French electro compilation, you could (probably) do worse than this.