There’s definitely a different-but-good vibe to be sensed off of Majenta, Detroit-born electro-funk artist Jimmy Edgar’s fourth studio album, that was released by Hotflush back in May. Edgar’s live show at Pop Montreal Wednesday night, however, proved that there’s even more to feel than meets the ear.
The songs of Majenta are often quick and at times hyper-sexualized, yet they are also thoughtful. In other words, they’re undeniably danceable, but they bring something more of the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) variety to the table as well. They leave you with that extra feeling to your listening experience; and they’re a far step from a cacophony of throw-away, easily digestible loops found just about everywhere else on the internet. Jimmy Edgar is one of the good finds.
Upon looking more into Edgar, I found that he is seeking this kind of response. A proponent of meditation, he hopes to expand people’s consciousness through his work. He has also delved into the world of hypnosis, primarily through his film work, exploring the power of suggestion. This is rendered clear as ever through his music video for “LET YRSELF BE” (which he designed in part), in which words and images are flashed repeatedly across the screen (including, aptly, the words “embedded suggestion”).
In fact, Edgar has mastered several fields of multimedia, not limiting himself to electronic music and film work; he’s done quite a bit of photography as well. While a good portion of his work in this field is professionally-shot fashion photography, his pieces consistently seem to hold on to a vibe that appears to be present throughout all forms of his work. Perhaps more obvious through his casual shots of people smoking cigarettes, or homemade, American-Apparel-esque, semi-pornographic fashion shots, is a raw, urban, sexualized vibe (comparable to the microcosmic, even voyeuristic work of Sandy Kim, for example). However, this is translated in some respects into his fashion photography as well, though through more subtle techniques such as his choice of models’ poses, expressions, and makeup.
This being said, I expected to be entering some kind of spiritual experience, almost, upon arriving to Jimmy Edgar’s Club Lambi gig on the opening night of Pop Montreal Wednesday night. Or to find myself diving into the consciousness of the cooler-than-thou hipster corners of the Internet. But perhaps spiritual is a bit of a heavy word; I don’t mean to say that I was expecting a serious time, but simply, one with a different vibe than a night at the Belmont a couple doors down.
Edgar arrived on stage in a long-sleeved black sweater, which, under the lighting, left only his face illuminated in red, much like the flashing graphic of the Majenta cover art behind him. He stood over his equipment with this unbreakable concentration that made me wonder what every night in the life of Jimmy Edgar must be like.
The show wasn’t entirely what I’d expected. It was a lot more than that.
Edgar effortlessly had the crowd moving right away. He fed new twists of liveliness into his tracks, making each a dance favourite, vibrating all four walls as the lights from a colored disco ball circled in the ceiling, and even the camera flashes from promoters in the crowd seemed in sync. His set was an hour and a half of straight energy.
Soon, he shed the black sweater and continued his delivery in a plain wife-beater, and that raw feeling was everywhere; in the music, the lights, the projections behind him, the small venue – every vibe sent out to the audience was felt.
As far as I can tell, he only once slowed his beats down, for a couple seconds near the end of his set. In those few seconds the validity of these vibes could be felt, as each person in attendance swayed along with the ebb and flow sonic waves, as if under hypnosis.
While one can understand this feeling of being transported while listening to Edgar’s studio recordings, there’s a whole different feel live. The set delivers to you, directly, a sensation that you only seem to get at home when your eyes are closed, or you’re wearing big, proper headphones, or when you’re on a long car trip or bus ride, tuned into a different state of mind. At a Jimmy Edgar show, this is state of consciousness is achieved right away. As the music fills the space, you, too, are consumed.
All in all, he does what he says he does – the sense of elevated awareness is definitely there, but with an added bonus: an honestly great party. Jimmy Edgar, it seems, is one of those acts you need to see live to experience fully.