Jimmy Edgar: Color Strip

Maximo Park: Missing Songs

On Color Strip, Detroit-based wunderkind Jimmy Edgar alchemizes techno, hip-hop, funk, and experimental electronic genres into an enticing future glitch-soul fusion that looks forward and back, with neon-bright synthesizers and old-school drum programming evoking Prince and Material in addition to Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, and Derrick May. Edgar's Warp album debut (Merck hepped to his fresh sound first, issuing My Mines I under the 'Kristuit Salu vs. Morris Nightingale' guise in 2002) opens with three fantastic exercises in complex micro-programming and chopped voice treatments: the irresistible electro-funk paradise “Pret'a'porter,” the robotically seductive “My Beats,” and the dub-soul “I Wanna Be Your STD.” While decent enough, the material that follows doesn't quite match that spectacular opening. The energy drops by design during the languid, post-coital bliss of “LBLBDetroit” before entering the ‘80s 'time zone' of Afrikaa Bambaata and “Rockit” (“Personal Information,” “Hold It Attach It Connect It”), Drexciya (“Jefferson Interception”), and even jazz-fusion (“Of the Silent Variety”). The pace picks up near the end with the mechano street-beat electro of “Semierotic” and vocodered stutter-funk of “Color Strip Warren” (Edgar's speedrap a pretty good Busdriver imitation) before closing with an untitled five minutes of smooth synth-soul (though I can't imagine too many listeners will find the 72 five-second intervals preceding the hidden track to be anything but a nuisance).

Edgar would be wise—as would many another artist—to consider the format of Missing Songs. Sure, as a collection of nine B-sides and three unreleased demos, it's hardly a match for the celebrated A Certain Trigger (to which it's designed as a companion) but it still rocks with a palpable swagger, and better yet weighs in at a fleet 33 minutes. Though Color Strip and Missing Songs share little beyond a common imprint, Maximo Park's three-minute tunes satisfy more for making their individual points with refreshing dispatch and then promptly stepping aside. Don't be fooled by the material's raunchy veneer as the band's heart beats power pop and pub-rock more than punk (tellingly, Maximo Park's “Isolation” is a cover of John Lennon's song, not Joy Division's); classic pop melodies lie beneath the buzzing guitars of “My Life In Reverse,” for example, while swooning harmonies in “Fear Of Falling” sweeten the song's speedball riffing. The group's range of influences appears huge: “A19” suggests the outcome of a raunchy Proclaimers-Buzzcocks session while the rockabilly shuffle of “A Year Of Doubt” recalls both Chris Spedding and The Smiths. Most bizarrely, “I Want You To Leave” even evokes early Jethro Tull; elsewhere, echoes of Elvis Costello and Franz Ferdinand emerge. Though understandably rough, the demos are highlights, especially when snarling vocals sail over slashing guitars and drums in “Graffiti.” Admittedly, Missing Songs is secondary to A Certain Trigger yet impresses still, in large part due to the concise delivery of its high-octane attack.

March 2006