JIM ALXNDR’s new EP brings skillful sampling and flawless production to electronic dance music, creating a refreshingly unique and inspiring sonic landscape.

It’s hard to categorize the music of Boston-based JIM ALXNDR. To the casual listener, JIM ALXNDR probably sounds more like plain EDM than ambient, but JIM ALXNDR crafts such intricate and expansive musical landscapes that, regardless of how many nature samples or tree rustling clips he uses, it can undoubtedly be labeled as ambient.

But he brings too many different musical styles to PORTAL, his new EP, to apply a single label. Little bits of rap, EDM, and jazz, and others, are all rolled into one coherent piece of art.

 

And in that way, PORTAL pushes the boundaries of both electronic dance music and shows how many genres can be incorporated into the style (hint: a few). At just three songs and just over eleven minutes, PORTAL weaves through electronic, jazz, and moody techno, creating a vast, dense sonic landscape.

The first song, “WOBBLY,” similar to the later two tracks, opens up on a single wavering note and builds upon it an almost trap-like beat—soon after, it breaks down into deep bass and panning synthesizers. The track is reminiscent at different points of both Porter Robinson and Louis the Child in its melody, and also in its flow from theme to theme and concept to concept smoothly and understandably. It makes no leaps too large, and yet still grabs the listener whilst showcasing JIM ALXNDR’s production chops. JIM ALXNDR here provides a booming, exciting start to the EP.

PORTAL’s second track, “FRUIT SALAD,” is less explicitly ambient and more, comparatively, dance music. The song unites the charmingly unique first and last tracks via a progressively more ambient sound.

The track’s catchiness reflects the rest of the EP—and according to JIM ALXNDR, that was very intentional.

“I love digestible music that can challenge a listener should they want to be challenged, but can also be consumed easily at a surface level,” he says.

JIM ALXNDR continues and furthers his ambient M.O. on “CONVO,” the final track—starting with a sample of a rainforest and then, uncharacteristically for electronic dance music, launches into smooth jazz, coupled with pulsating bass and claps that truly—skillfully—blend the two genres. The song progresses, and then ends exactly where it started with the ambient forest noises.

Despite the EP’s brevity, JIM ALXNDR demonstrates a remarkable ability to envelop the listener in elaborate musical textures while still remembering how to make and pull off catchy ambient music.

Impeccably produced, diverse, emotional—JIM ALXNDR’s new EP is a journey.

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