April 2nd, 2018 | Album reviews

Rio Grande
L.A. Club Resource

Delroy Edwards’ catalog covers more ground than most musicians twice his age. His early EPs for Brooklyn label L.I.E.S. trafficked in grimy, no-nonsense house and techno, while his own L.A. Club Resource has served as an outlet for re-imagined Memphis rap (the Slowed Down Funk mixtape series) and noisy psychedelia inspired by the California coast (his first proper LP, Hangin’ At The Beach). His latest full-length Rio Grande turns an eye to the South for a collection of laconic funk that feels simultaneously playful and laser-focused. Where HATB found a sun-soaked kind of joy in cramming as many styles as possible onto one LP, Rio Grande feels utilitarian in its commitment to drum machine grooves and wispy pads—sometimes just the former, as with the hard-as-nails “Raw Beats” two-parter. And while Edwards’ signature tape hiss is still present, it’s noticeably dialed down, letting the punch of tracks like single “When I Think” and the AFX-y raver “Knock Em Out” take center stage. Even the album art is both artful and piercingly direct, with three separate fonts spelling out the title, tracklist, and artist on a bare white background. At the end of the day, that’s all you need to know: these are 22 great songs by Delroy Edwards, whether you’re approaching Rio Grande as dancefloor weapon, mood music, or a document from one of L.A.’s most exciting outsider artists. It works from every angle.

—Zach Bilson