Fedaden: Broader

A member of the French IDM-electronica music scene since the early ‘90s, Denis Fedabeille (aka Fedaden) produces refined tracks that gravitate between elegant sweep and frenetic, low-end throb. Broader, the latest collection from the Del Wire member and Toulouse-based producer, impresses as a particularly well-crafted and hard-hitting collection of full-bodied instrumental hip-hop. Many of the tracks are built from thrusting hip-hop rhythms and subterranean bass lines overlaid by banks of dazzling synthesizer melodies and patterns, making for an intense listening experience.

A repeating harp melody swirls, an insistent pulse broils, and “Verdad” leaps from the gate, memorably inaugurating a seventy-minute ride that'll carry on through multi-hued fields of vibrant and oft-funky instrumental hip-hop. Writhing rhythms as strings collide in this reprise of a track already heard on an early 2009 EP alongside remixes by Kelpe, Ghislain Poirier, and aus. “Danseur inutile” begins even more audaciously with a bass clarinet pattern that's soon joined by a smooth vocal in French by guest Dominique A and fleshed out by a dizzying array of other instruments. While the singer's delivery is laconic, the accompanying elements churn agitatedly before the two components come to a tentative agreement. In the head-turning title cut, angular synthetic tones jut at right angles to one another while a tight funk pulse bleats below. Layer upon layer of keyboard melodies position themselves until a neon-lit blaze of synthesizer-based results, the sum-total so bright it's like the Northern Lights in aural form. With a surging bottom end counterbalanced by a raging storm of handclaps and interlaced melodies, the attack in album highlight “Key” is pitched at such an aggressive and ecstatic level the track verges on dizzying. Also strong is “Buralta,” wherein a low-riding hip-hop funk pulse hammers down below while a staccato keyboard melody wails up above.

Fedabeille smartly includes a few tracks of restrained character to allow the listener an opportunity to catch his/her breath. Elegant piano and harp counterpoint in the beatless reverie “Mélodie” offers a melancholy respite from the steamy material that otherwise dominates. During “Vultures,” synthetic strings and tinkling melodies add five minutes of symphonic grandeur to the recording, while “Contrecoeur” closes the album with a brooding, four-minute meditation of music box melodies. Broader's quality level remains high throughout but what recommends Fedabeille's material most is that he's created a fresh and highly personalized style within a genre that often finds practitioners creating material that's overly influenced by Prefuse 73, Dabrye, and others. In short, Fedanden ultimately ends up sounding like nothing else but Fedanden.

September 2009