Jets Jets EP
Given their past form as individual artists, one could be forgiven for assuming that Jimmy […]
Given their past form as individual artists, one could be forgiven for assuming that Jimmy Edgar‘s and Machinedrum‘s first collaborative release would be a much more colorful, in-your-face affair than it actually is. Both on record and as a performer, Edgar has long been known as an artist unafraid to indulge his playful side; he’s renowned for his love of mechanized, erotic funk and vintage R&B just as much as he is for his skills as a producer and DJ. Similarly, in the wake of last year’s excellent, footwork-informed LP, Room(s), Machinedrum’s live outings have become increasingly sweaty, high-tempo affairs that see the producer turning out a fast-paced mix of juke and old hardcore alongside impassioned live renditions of his own tunes. There was every chance then, that the long-time friends’ debut release as Jets could have turned out to be a head-spinning exercise in dance-music bombast, with each artist’s more eccentric leanings amplified by the presence of the other. Thankfully, it’s not. Instead, what we see with Jets is the less upfront, more skillful side of each producer—Machinedrum’s talent for intricate drum programming, Jimmy Edgar’s inner synth nerd—with results that transcend the sum of its parts.
That’s not to say that Jets is a totally straightforward affair though; across the course of four tracks, the pair manages to touch on a surprisingly broad range of influences with impressive subtlety. Opener “In Her City” matches the familiar hollow synth tones of the duo’s adopted Berlin home (both producers have settled in the city in recent years) with disjointed vocal syllables that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Todd Edwards record. It builds slowly, but the payoff comes in the form of simple, interlocking synth lines and scattered drum beats rather than a meaty drop. Meanwhile, “Sin Love With You” is a synth-heavy jam at hip-hop tempo. With its thick chords and quick vocal cuts, it’s also the closest the EP comes to showing signs of Edgar’s funk leanings.
The second half of the EP raises the pace a little; “Mue” indulges Machinedrum’s love of juke rhythms, reviving the quickfire drum machine patterns and heavily chopped vocals that characterised Room(s)‘ best moments with a thick arpeggiated synth piled on top. The release then reaches its energetic peak with closer “Lock Lock Key Key”—a dense mix of stop-start edits and joyous handclaps.
While it’s easy to link moments throughout the EP back to each producer’s solo work, it would be doing them an injustice to infer that Jets is simply a mash-up of the pair’s individual production traits. Wherever it’s possible to identify the input of one half of the duo, it’s also possible to hear the obvious—and more often than not, positive—influence of the other; Machinedrum’s hectic drum lines and vocal edits are given added weight thanks to the backbone of Edgar’s pristine production; Edgar’s metallic-sounding synths feel more organic thanks to Machinedrum’s atmospheric touch. There’s nothing that revolutionary about the final product—the EP features no track-of-the-year contenders or sub-genre-defining mash-ups of styles—but it would be hard to deny the appeal of these four exceptionally well-produced tunes. It’s certainly a good thing that these two artists are finally working together, and it’s difficult to shake the suspicion that, if the duo decides to take Jets on the road, a live show from the pair could prove to be pretty phenomenal.