A Sculpture Of Pop Music: Jimmy Edgar On The Processes Behind ‘LIQUID HEAVENS’

His new album is an inter-textual feast...

Jimmy Edgar is a singular voice in music production. Steeped in club culture, the Detroit figure has made more than his fair share of system heaters, building an idiosyncratic catalogue in the process.

He’s released on esteemed UK imprint Warp Records, while Jimmy Edgar has also linked up Machinedrum on the acclaimed J-E-T-S project.

Out now, new album ‘LIQUID HEAVENS’ spins the creative dials once more. Fascinated by the interwoven relationship between visual art and technology, Jimmy Edgar delivers sculptures in sound; tangentially associated with club culture, he utilises these tropes in a distinct, endlessly imaginative manner.

The creative conduits that run through his work meet in the vivid album artwork, bringing together themes of colour, light, technology, and its role in our lives. Here, Jimmy Edgar writes for Clash about the processes behind its construction.

LIQUIDS HEAVEN began with synthesis techniques called Slipstick, Karplus, and Scan. These sounds felt very complex and liquid to me. The concepts were generally a step or more beyond typical synthesis techniques such as Amplitude and Frequency Modulation. They are basically emulations of materials like metal, plastic, and the crossfade between them.

Slipstick is a step beyond Karplus in which you are emulating “taps” onto a material and so with this you are synthesizing the “tap” and also how it resonates. Different material resonates differently, for example plastic tends to dull quickly but glad and metal will resonate much further and at different frequnecy ranges.  Scan synthesis is a technique I came up with when thinking about how I produce music. I often make songs and ideas within ideas so I wrote a plugin that could do that with an array of inputs. Its very simple actually, just a multiplexing crossfader. There is something super natural about crossfaders because that is how we hear, its more like a crossfader than harsh cuts. This was apparent when I was researching how to create simulated microphone feedback, you need attenuation or crossfading for it to distort in a similar way.

This prompted a question about liquid, which was something I was exploring with air at my solo art exhibition OXYGEN. I asked what do theme phases of matters desire? I wanted to think of them as if they are sentient beings by considering what they want to do and how they want to be viewed. I talked a lot about OXYGEN earlier in the year but with LIQUIDS HEAVEN it was about liquid. I thought liquid wants to be contained, it wants to flow, it wants to be consumed.

As I was exploring physical display of my concepts I thought about a structure that could contain liquids in a kind-of playground. Somewhere the liquid could eternally flow and experience its true potential, without changing form, without evaporating or solidifying.

LIQUIDS HEAVEN is a sculpture about this idea. Also, the sound seems to me like a sculpture of pop music. Music and sound, to me, is sculptures of air pressure. We don’t think much about the materiality of sound because its so emotionally impactful, but its entirely immaterial to us. Invisible sound waves, vibrations of air pressure. This fascinating me so much to think about as I was exploring OXYGEN, air as a material.

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