Sunday 29 May 2011


Gil Scott-Heron is no longer with us. But what a tribute that had been prepared in his last months: the talents of a new star in production to take his voice, his words, and put them in a sanctuary of beats and synth. Jamie xx has immortalised the godfather of hip-hop, the grandfather of rap, the forward-thinking beat poet of years ago, in his own future sound of music. Let's take a look back at this amazing music, or if you're new to it, welcome to these sonic works of art. This is beautiful stuff, people - beautiful.

This is the star track from the album, first released as a single in late 2010. Its dubstep rhythm with a core essence of something like UK garage is very telling of Jamie xx's style. I love this sound, all of it: from the ghostly samples of Scott-Heron's voice to the bouncing kick that rises and falls throughout the song. Jamie sums it up himself:

I wanted it to sound like everything I had been listening to in London. I wanted it to sound like something you’d hear on pirate radio.
Jamie xx

This one has much more of a drum & bass feel to it, though the chopped up beats are something more akin to breakbeats. Jamie xx is another one of those producers who, like I mentioned about Clams Casino yesterday, knows how to utilise space to enhance its dynamic strengths of creating breathing space and tiny blips of quiet in which your ears naturally anticipate the sound carrying on. Much of this tempo of music is populated with guys who fill it all with tinny cymbals, giving the listener no rest or respite.

What a song. That piano chord progression gives it a sound like early house. The beat is much less ambitious in this song as the other two above, but it still packs a punch and means just as much as the complications between the kick and snare in 'The Crutch'. This one really shows off how well Jamie has treated Gil Scott-Heron's voice. It sounds absolutely perfect. I don't know what else to say. I cannot wait for Jamie xx to come up with something else, I suppose. I feel like I'm addicted to it all over again.

All of these songs are on 'We're New Here' - the Jamie xx remix album of the late, great Gil Scott-Heron's 2010 'I'm New Here'.

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