Abstractionism at its finest
If you prefer ordinary, take a step back, because Detroit-born artist Jimmy Edgar is the furthest from it. For the past 15-plus years, the producer has been experimenting with a blend of genres to create a distinctive sound that is eccentric to the world of electronic music.
“The value I bring is hybridization,” explains Edgar in speaking about his creative approach. “I think about different universes of sound coming together to create an entirely new domain of knowing.” Edgar expands this approach as he collaborates with inspiring artists to create something entirely experimental and new. In the past decade, the artist has worked under his duo, JETS with Machinedrum, and released the 2018 album, Moments of Reality as Jimmy Edgar with PILAR ZETA. Aside from his personal releases, Edgar has worked with other notable musicians, producing for Charlie XCX and Vince Staples (Big Fish Theory, “745”). Each of these moments acted as inspiration leading up to the release of a highly anticipated solo piece, an experimental 14-track album, Cheetah Bend.
Dedicated to his lifelong friend, the late producer/artist SOPHIE, Cheetah Bend focuses on what the two artists shared together: a deep passion for breaking the wall in music. SOPHIE inspired Edgar to challenge structure and genres; she believed in breaking through mainstream pop by elevating it through electronic music to make it even better, and she did that. On Cheetah Bend, people find these influences; with the two believing that electronic music can open up new ground to something greater, Edgar took this inspiration to heart.
Although the album is Edgar’s solo work, it is still highly collaborative, with 10 different features from artists of all genres. Extremely abstract, this album takes pieces from each aspect of electronic music and brings them into one, highlighting bits of techno, dub, electro-funk, futuristic R&B, and, of course, dance and house. As it was long-awaited, the album reached the top charts in multiple countries and achieved DJMag’s Album of the Month for February.
The first track, “CROWN,” sets up listeners for the unexpected, introducing them to the abstract journey that lies ahead. It reflects themes of space and stimulation, doing nothing less than enticing the listener. Edgar ends the song with a brief vintage video-game sample, reminding listeners of the artist he is, that alongside what you expect comes the highly unpredictable.
“GET UP” is just that, as people listen to Danny Brown’s distinctive voice rap over a highly electronic-focused beat, but of course, with these two artists collaborating, anything they make will come together. If you already know who Matt Ox is, then the next song, “PAUSE,” will bring the listener a laugh. Ox’s energy radiates widely over the beat, fitting well with the overall vibe of the album while adding a pop element. Imagining Edgar and 16-year-old Ox collaborating would be a sight to see, but of course, it just reflects Edgar’s intention of bringing up and inspiring other talented artists.
The next track, “METAL,” featuring SOPHIE, is an EDM lover’s dream. The song reflects dubs and wubs at their most abstract level, creating the sonic imagery of metal itself. Although SOPHIE isn’t present in the next track, her presence is felt in “BE WITH YOU,” featuring Millie Go Lightly, another song that focuses on pop elements through Millie’s vocals but hits hard with a dubstep-centered beat.
The album continues to shock the listeners as they make their way through it, with incredible collaborations such as Hudson Mohawke’s production on “BENT” and Semma’s powerful, airy vocals on “CHEETAH.” The final song, “CURVES,” is, of course, another corky production by Edgar, concluding as a final jingle to his obscure sounds.
Overall, the production of this album is on point, and the album itself resembles the type of artist Jimmy Edgar is, along with fulfilling the dedication it has to SOPHIE. This album is a piece of work that reflects what comes out of stepping outside of the box and the beauty of collaboration.