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Jimmy Edgar
Color Strip

Rating: 8.4/10 ?

March 30, 2006
If you're allergic to peanuts, you don't eat um. Simple enough, right?

Color Strip is an electronic album through and through, and if you happen to not like music of that persuasion, don't listen to Jimmy Edgar's February 2006 release.

Actually, I take that back: everyone should be open to listening to this album. It is a great recording that further cements the credibility of UK powerhouse Warp Records and offers a more extensive look into Edgar's ability. For those who are biased against electronic music from the outset though, Color Strip will be hard to digest.

Up until now Edgar has been a bitty smudge on the canvas that is electronic music. In 2004 he officially released a couple short-running EPs to some excitement - say ballyhoo - and then left everyone hanging, like, Aww shit. But Color Strip is a splash of digital hues and shapes, and it shows that Edgar can make a profound musical portrait.

Some people will listen to the record and comment on its repetitive, beat- and synth-friendly, infectious style and ask, How could anyone call this 'profound'? These characteristics are not faults but instead the strengths and patterns that make it a uniform, complete, creative, and effective album-and this is often the nature of glitch and techno electronic subgenres.

Color Strip is more than just a practice in the stutter-step rhythmic touchings that most have come to know through the works of heavy hitters like Prefuse 73 and Aphex Twin. If forced to compare, I would push Edgar further towards the neo-disco, left-side techno end of the electronic spectrum that innovators such as Matthew Dear have helped feel out upon occasion. Pigeonholing comes very easy in electronic music, so comparison is not as important as describing the actual sounds that are present here.

The first three tracks of this album are fucking white-hot. They lean toward French electro with an emphasis on dance and sparkling, hooky melodies with distorted vocals in tow. The rhythm is triplet-based which gives it that Prefuse 73 "Sabbatical With Options" breakdown feel. It's a four-against-three rhythm and induces a normal 'bass on the 1 and 3 head-bobbing,' juxtaposed with a non-common-feeling subdivided rhythm. The result is a rhythmic orchestra - a full scope of percussive beats building up to one detailed composition. Edgar also often utilizes '80s style b-boy playground breakbeat Bambaata-style drums during this type of song, and does so to great effect.

In truth, the entire first half of the album is composed in this way. Edgar's vocals are just as distinct in their distorted low-tone and sped-up cadence. It's like if you took a Barry White LP from 33 RPMs to 45. Instead of sensual love lyrics though, Edgar goes the direct and raunchy route. On "Beats" he slathers lyrics like melting butter, "Girl what you think about my beats (my beats)/I can give you anything you need (you need-hear)/Let my rhythm take control (take control)." One track is even entitled "I Wanna Be Your STD." To me it seems intentionally over-sexed but fitting to the syntax of the velvety synth and constructed 808 beats.

"Telautraux" acts as a dividing line between Color Strip's two halves. The track is an ambient unfolding with slow, open synth breathings stabbed by static-y distorted electronic freakouts. Nearly everything following "Telautraux" is techno formulated. It is as if at first Edgar is exhibiting his catchy side and then eventually he buries his head in a beach of instruments and computers. The theme that follows this point is very Detroit, reliant on four-on-the-floor beats and subtle divergence of effects and the tinkering of sounds for progression.

Jimmy Edgar succeeds in his first full album effort, blending different subgenres into one broad but connected concept. Although not everyone is down for the experience, Color Strip will move those who have their head in the right place.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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