Jamie XX 8/21 at Rotture
Written by Sean Mahan on August 16, 2014
Abstract Earth Project presents the UK-based beat-maker from The XX, Jamie xx (Jamie Smith). Besides being known as ‘the drummer from The XX’, he is a remix artist, a producer, and occasionally a radio DJ. Although he began his musical career playing the drums, he turned to the ‘80s Media Production Centre for programming his computer-based sounds onto electronic percussion pads, allowing him to play both live and in the studio. His music embodies steel drum synths, skeletal garage-referencing beats, and bzzing sawtooth basslines, sketching out the unmistakable silhouette of the contemporary dancefloor staple.
In 2011 “Far Nearer/Beat For” was his first solo project and despite being a smaller project in terms of size, won a critical acclaim. The release seems much more of an occasion than his collaborative LP of Gil Scott-Heron reworks. Musically, the album represents the possibilities of what you can achieve with a copy of Logic, some syncopated or swung drum patterns and some r’n’b acapellas. In 2014, he returned with “Girl/Sleep Sound”, a sleek, propulsive single released by Young Turks. “Sleep Sounds” is an ephemeral track that might be the perfect background music for a Salvador Dalí surrealistic dreamscape. It is quietly beautiful, filled with abstruse melodies that swirl and fade; it manages to sound both sparse and overflowing simultaneously. The song eventually lent itself to an in-depth music video, in which dancers from the Manchester Deaf Centre created movement inspired by the sound’s physical vibration. Jamie xx’s inspiration for the video was based on his experience listening to music on the train, while a deaf girl was feeling the music only by watching him. “Girl” is more of a comparatively upbeat track, layered with cloudy, amorphous synths and vague vocal samples over a distant drum smack.
His latest release “All Under One Roof Raving” injects old-school cred in the form of period-specific samples: lopped MC chatter, crowd noise, rave whistles, and interview snippets, including one that give the track its title. It includes snippets of “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore”, British artist Mark Leckey’s 1999 experimental short film, along with loads of other 1990’s rave scene ephemera. It is seen as a misty-eyed nostalgic material, that colors everything in, using modern classicism and faded neon hues.