JETS featuring Jamie Lidell Midas Touch
This is only the second release from Jimmy Edgar and Travis Stewart (a.k.a. Machinedrum) as JETS following their superb self-titled debut EP from 2012. Despite both artists residing in Berlin in the time since (Stewart has very recently moved back to the US), it's not surprising that they've found limited opportunities to get together and record a follow-up. Demanding tour schedules, getting a new label off the ground (their co-curated Ultramajic), and recording one of last year's best albums (Machinedrum's Vapor City) would take up a lot of anyone's time, and in many ways, this enjoyable cover version of Midnight Star's much-loved 1986 synth-funk hit "Midas Touch" is a neat embodiment of the limited time both artists presumably had to devote to its creation.
Almost everything about the song—it being a cover of a minor classic, it being released on a limited run of vinyl, and a press release noting that it came about as a result of "serendipitous recording sessions"—lends the enterprise an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment feel. In lesser hands, a precipitous dip in the quality of the end product would be an inevitable addition to this list. However, Edgar's and Stewart's take is assured and well-executed, and should probably be treated as a fun little bonus rather than the true follow-up to their debut, which comprised four tracks and was clearly the product of a time-consuming writing process and serious studio time.
The serendipitous aspect of the creation of "Midas Touch" obviously extended to getting a third leading light of electronic music's recent epoch—Jamie Lidell—into the studio as well. His inclusion on vocals takes JETS into (temporary) supergroup territory, and he belts out his lyrics in the hearty, full-fat way that's become his trademark since 2005's Multiply LP saw him morph from heads-down knob-twiddler to white-soul whirlwind.
As with their debut, "Midas Touch" feels like a natural and seamless melding of the talents of both Edgar and Stewart, rather than a foregrounding of one of their styles. The a-side achieves a considered, slow-burning quality, with Lidell's periodically stretched and warped vocals running up against staccato percussion and deliberate, rubberized bass. Adding to the in-house, hurried-but-not-rushed feel, is Stewart exchanging his JETS hat for his Machinedrum hat to contribute the only remix on the package. It alights on punchier territory, with a bubbling bassline and more linear, clattering percussion conspiring to create something that falls close to the tree while taking far squarer aim at the floor. In the end, this record may be the fruit of snatched interludes of studio time, but when such interludes involve producers of this caliber, the end product will always be worth paying attention to.
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