While XXX smoothes some of Edgar’s edges, it’s a smoothness that suits.
Louis Pattison 2010
Detroit-based “dancefloor designer” and fashion photographer Jimmy Edgar broke cover in the UK with 2004’s Access Rhythm, an EP for Warp Records that introduced a global audience to his crisp, digital take on jacking house and electronic funk. Edgar’s career as a club DJ goes back rather further, though. As a 15-year-old, he was DJing alongside the likes of Detroit legends Juan Atkins and Derrick May at, as he puts it, “strip clubs and whorehouses”. Pretty seedy stuff, as formative experiences go, and happily, you can hear it in his music.
These heavily sexual funk jams flex and gyrate, all low-down grooves and pneumatic function – and often have names to match. His best-known track to date, included on Warp’s 20th Anniversary compilation, was titled I Wanna Be Your STD.
Following collaborative work with former Beta Band vocalist Steve Mason in the band Black Affair, Edgar returns with a new solo record, XXX, and a new label, !K7. Genre-wise he is not forging off on any new paths: a purée of jazz, funk, techno and house remains his favoured lubricant. Time has seen his music get a little less fidgety, though. Where once tracks squirmed with jarring, scattershot beats – a nod to the IDM stylings of his Warp labelmates, perhaps – now the likes of Function Of Your Love and New Touch offer a rather smoother ride, focused more on creating a neat synthesis of funk and swing.
But the real root of Edgar’s appeal is the manner in which he balances the electronic and human qualities in his music. Like, say, Dãm-Funk – whose recent Stones Throw LP Toeachizown hits similar buttons to XXX – Edgar is very evidently performer, not just a faceless producer, whispering simplistic but effective spoken-sung lyrics, or adding deft, jazzy keyboard flourishes, shaped with filters and pitch bend.
There could perhaps be more variations in tempo along the lines of Physical Motion, which slows it down a couple of notches, a lover’s jam immersed in a Jacuzzi of soothing, vocodered vocals and bubbling synth. Edgar’s music continues to evolve, though, and while XXX finds some of those rough edges smoothed off, it’s a smoothness that suits.