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Todd Edwards: The Best of i! Records: 10 Years of U.K. Garage

Todd Edwards: The Best of i! Records: 10 Years of U.K. Garage

Release Date:2005

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 12/21/2005

Doughy white Jersey boy and devout Catholic Todd Edwards might be the past decade’s most important dance-music producer. Ever since his astonishingly supple remix of St. Germain’s “Alabama Blues” in 1995, Edwards has perfected his snip-and-paste style, in which dozens of microscopic sounds parade by over lithe high-hat patterns and snares that skitter around a kick drum keeping everything regular. He has influenced everyone from techno producers like Akufen (whose 2002 My Way is virtually an Edwards tribute album, minus the religious signifiers) to the squeaky, glittery early-’00s style known briefly as “speed garage” before settling for a “U.K.” prefix.

Affiliated with the New Jersey label i! since its inception a decade ago, Edwards produced six of the 17 songs on this hourlong collection under his own name, while the more straightforward but equally heady British duo Tuff Jam get two artist and one remix credits. Where Edwards’ colorful sound evokes a kind of digital-spiritual speaking in tongues, Tuff Jam’s are more brutal and basic. The duo’s “Key Dub” isn’t much more than a beat, a hollow-sounding bass line, some organ stabs, and a pair of palsied vocal samples.

Its vibrant diversity is one reason to miss U.K. garage, having mutated into the darker, woozier sound of grime, which moved the music into a background role thanks to a crop of talented MCs. Still, Edwards’ mix, as well as his albums, demonstrates that this stuff is still easy to love as music alone.

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