Edan ‘Beauty and the Beat’ Picture Disc/LP/CD (Lewis Recordings) 4/5


Edan’s own words artlessly throw light on the provenance of this 2005 cult classic. Arriving 3 years after his juvenile debut, this UK-charting, lo-fi beaut reeks of ripped-cover, coffee-stained, fuggy digs from varied and unlikely charity/2nd hand shops. An idiosyncratic psych style is further left-fielded by Edans love of Minimoog, fuzz and excessive echoplexin’. The whole thing flows effortlessly. From his smile-inducing words and delivery, to each component part and track, it segues so smoothly, so correctly. It’s impossible to think it could have happened without a singular vision and some serious storyboarding.

“Polite Meeting” is the quirky intro asking us to “open our ears and listen” via loopy fx and a David Bowie interview that fittingly threatens “there are plans for something much more ambitious”. “Funky Voltron” glows with sunny space funk and the more-than-their-two-parts, interplay of Edan and Insight. “I See Colours” lyrically wears its respectful origins on both sleeves, showing much love to the hip-hop pioneers and explicitly letting us know that “Prince Paul already used this loop”. “Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme” is all about the fluid juxtaposition of late 60s soft psychers, Passing Clouds, and oldskool hard beats.

The menace of “Murder Mystery” portends into the snarl of “Torture Chamber”. Percee P is relentless; he conquers the beats and rides the foreboding strings. Mr Lif and a simple “Hey Joe” line is all that minimal “Making Planets” needs. “Rock And Roll” has got nuts that have gone well flaky; Marriott’s guitar is stretched under Edan and Dagha, rumbling beneath them and various random bleeps and clicks. “Beauty” is blessed with beautiful strings and flute while “The Science Of The Two” reunites our favourite superhero dyad as Edan and Insight further convince us of their Voltronic credentials. “Smile” is a beaming, backwards sliding, trippy psych via Jefferson Starship and The Hollies. And, finally, after many righteous battles and grinning victories, Edan arrives at his deserved “Promised Land”.

Time eh. This colourised beauty is nearly 18 years old. It came out before I worked for The Man, before fruity sour beers, before my Citroen Picasso family car acquiescence, before this world demanded I take it more seriously. Times felt quite different – simpler, maybe; more easily hopeful, I guess, and this album feels of its time. It has a lovely feel of assumed perpetual organic growth, like it is part of an entitled, unstoppable, creative surf; a gentle, wacky wave washing us forward to a better place – a place where you go to be yourself. Not that it’s soppy or artsy. It’s an intelligent, focused work that psych rocks and funks. It’s driven by an experimental, probing intelligence that’s enthused by a self-deprecating, naturally generous and respectful, collaborative spirit. And it is impossible not to be charmed by it; impossible not to love it. Thanks in part to EDAN BADD HABIT but mainly due to his Humble Magnificence.

Ian Ward