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Jimmy Edgar is Detroit Techno's New Age Wizard

The man behind Ultramajic runs down his favorite transcendental moments.

by Jimmy Edgar
Jun 19 2014, 6:35pm

Who better to administrate such wretched excavations than everyone's favourite purveyor of chiselled sex-techno, Detroit vet Jimmy Edgar. From his days spent playing strip clubs in the late 90s, to his reinvention in Berlin, his Ultramajic label and recent, heady BBC Radio 1 Essental Mix, Jimmy has always keeps it sweaty and dangerous. Whether the delivery system is skeletal IDM, cosmic hip hop or cut-up club hits (seen in his collaborative project with Machinedrum, JETS), Jimmy has the wealth of knowledge and eccentric edge that makes him perfect for diving into weird YouTube wormholes.

For his Hidden Depths, he's selected his favourite transcendental, New Age-leaning records. 

Art of Noise - 'Moments In Love' (Rare Extended Mix) (Original: China/Polydor, 1989)

This is one of my favourite songs of all time. It directly inspired my track 'In Deep'.  There are so many versions of this song, but this is my ultimate choice.  I think the melody is so simple. It has a vibe all of its own. The visuals that come to mind are late night blue tones; venetian blinds, sparkling martini glasses, neon clocks, random stocking legs that are attached to bodies - or not.

Sade - 'Living Without You' (Unreleased)

Supposedly this is an unreleased song, but I bought this on a white label years ago from Hot Hitz in Detroit.  I figured that it was a remix, but it turns out that it's an original track.  Of course, Sade has one of the most recognisable voices ever.  I really love her soothing, classy vibe, and it's really good to hear her on a more upbeat sound.

Pascal Languirand - 'Nova' (Minos, 1980)

I'm really into New Wave, 90s New Age and Quiet Storm music.  I have my reasons - it's partly my love affair with 90s digital synthesisers, and it also reminds me of the worst of late 80s commercial music.  For instance, Enya is permanently ruined for so many of us Americans because of that goddamn Pure Moods advertisement. The way the music on that advert is cut together will never leave my head. I'm surprised the 1-800 number isn't etched into my mind from it.

Holger Hiller - 'Ohi Ho Bang Bang' (1988)

I found this on YouTube in 2004-2005.  I was blown away by the video, and knew that there had to be a better synched version somewhere.  Unfortunately I never found it, but the music is still very cool.  I imagine they recorded all these sounds into a Fairlight, and just made a song around the random moments.  I'm inspired by rhythm-based music, so this really resonated with me.  I tried to research more about him and his music, but I never really found anything else of his that interested me. The lighting in this video is priceless though. It's set up like a cheesy, mid-90s photo studio;, what with soft light and shadows, and brown, oil painted backdrop. It's probably the same set up they use to shoot judges and politicians.

Kraftwelt - 'Retroish' (Hypnotic, 1998)

I came across this record as an early teenager when record shopping in Detroit.  I got excited because I thought I had found a new or secret Kraftwerk record, but it wasn't until I got home that I realised it wasn't Kraftwerk at all.  I actually bought this the same day as Aphex Twin 'On'.  The whole album has this particular vibe to it, like a 90s electro moisturiser commercial. It's really cheap, but some of the melodies are classy.  Their name kind of ruins the vibe for me, but I won't hold it against them.

Robert Rich - 'Geometry' (Spalax Music, 1991)

I took some friends to see Robert Rich perform in a planetarium in Detroit when I was 19. I was pretty confused when he started playing the flute, and disappointed by what he was doing on this huge modular synthesiser.  I kept thinking about what amazing sounds that could be played on it.  I was young and so I couldn't really appreciate it at the time, but his recordings are really special.  My friends and I laughed at him because he offered to "give scribbles" to anyone who wants them after the show. We were so stoned that we didn't understand (until later) that he meant autographs.  Respect.

Terry Riley - 'Persian Surgery Dervishes' (Shanti, 1972)

A very hypnotic piece by Terry Riley. I admire anyone who can hone in on a melody and push it to the limit.  If you are into this, I highly recommend searching out Kit Clayton's 'Painting Between Numbers': a very beautiful piece of music.

Dopplereffekt - 'Myon Neutrino' (International Deejay Gigolo, 2002)

I feel like this is one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard; completely devoid beats, and slightly jazzy. Dopplereffekt have always been a source of inspiration for me, and this was an excellent period of music for them because it sounded like one of the last true analog works - or what sounds like them.  

Aphex Twin - 'Alberto Balsalm' (Warp, 1995)

An absolute classic.  The thing about this song is that the melodies can easily stand alone, but the drum sounds are just as good too.  They sounds like mental bending.

Logic - 'The Final Frontier' (Strictly Rhythm, 1990)

Let's end this list on a high note with something a little more universal.  I think this track sampled a chord from Larry Heard/Mr. Fingers, and with the sample made a bigger, more stripped-back version of the original.  The track is carried on the back of that same 90s New Age, transcendental vibe as I've described above. I feel that artists back then really worked on melodies; as if they were sculpting.  I could listen to that one chord for an hour. In fact, it's my go-to sound when I need inspiration in the studio.

You can follow Jimmy Edgar on Twitter here: @jimmyedgar

Read more from the THUMP UK Hidden Depths series:

Lockah Nerds Out On Classic Miami Bass Jams

"One More Tune!": Mister Saturday Night's Favourite Party Closers

The Don Loefah Digs Deep With His Favourite, Classic Soul Cuts