NERD CAGE: Jim finds Lidell breaking away from geekery and focusing on blue-eyed soul.
It’s difficult to keep up when Jamie Lidell is talking. Perhaps it’s because he’s a fast and forward-thinking producer and singer who melds advanced electronics with blue-eyed soul. Perhaps it’s his British accent. Or the fact that he’s been drinking champagne cocktails for much of the morning. Take this explanation of what he was trying to avoid on the making of his new album, Jim (Warp): “In this day and age you record a bit, have a listen, re-record three bars, overdub this bit, take that out, put the synth in; it’s like jiggery-pokery how you get the whole thing pieced together like a Lego puzzle or something. But this time around, after a while the songs dictated what was going to happen, and I just allowed myself to listen to them.”
Lounging in the lobby of a chic SoHo hotel in New York, the geographically fluid Lidell (who plays the Paradise this Saturday) discourses on everything from his recent move to Paris (to be with his long-time girlfriend) to his travels to LA, where Jim was recorded. Although his previous CD, Multiply, was made in his former home of Berlin, this time he found the German capital too dour for the upbeat, sunshiny record he was planning. “I needed something like the vitamin kick LA provides to kind of see me over the hump. And I needed to inject the discipline of the American mind state to get this damn thing finished. The idea of having people in Berlin ‘kind of’ available, ‘kind of’ on Tuesday sort of gave me the fear as well.”
Although Lidell is known for his master electronic manipulations in his Super_Collider project with Chilean-born producer Cristian Vogel, for Jim he was less interested in geeking out. “After a while you feel like you’re kind of a nerdy showoff. And that was part of the phenomenon of electronic music for me, how quick you could do an edit, how many edits per second you could do. There was a boarding-school-hierarchy thing about it.”
Jim, on the other hand, is a breezy and endearing work. The message behind the piano-based, Motown-tinged “Wait for Me” is as simple as its title: “Without you by my side I just can’t sleep/That’s why I’m up all night counting sheep/Hoping and praying you wait for me.” Although the album takes to the dance floor midway via knob twisters like “Hurricane” and the retro-charming “Figured Me Out,” it might be most memorable for its dreamy, philosophical ballads: “All I Wanna Do,” “Rope of Sand.”
The word that keeps jumping out is “sincere.” But Lidell is not altogether easy with that characterization. “I think that’s a strong word. Intimate, maybe. Intimacy and sincerity come hand and hand, of course. Put it this way: my voice is louder in the mix than any other record I’ve ever made, so perhaps vulnerable is the word.”