"Now he’s stepped out on his own, we get a proper glimpse of the impressive level of talent at work"
With the takeover of the American trap-EDM sound it seems the original tenants of UK-influenced dance music have been relegated to history.
The North London dancehall soundsystems, West London broken beats and South London drum’n’bass and 2-Step that once provided signposts for ‘night-music’ now lie largely ignored. UK producer Jamie xx remembers though. It’s stamped all over the opening track of his new album, In Colour, Gosh, a drum’n’bass/post-rave-inspired tribute to the breakbeat and the airhorn-ridden illegal party scene of the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and these influences also cast long shadows across the dubbed-out Hold Tight and dreamy SeeSaw.
But In Colour is far more than a throwback album. Jamie xx has attempted to re-imagine the spectrum of his influences; the surging vocal rises and slow motion 4/4s of lead single, Loud Places, are utterly inspirational and a lock for one of the year’s best singles, while I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times), featuring Young Thug and Popcaan is a deliriously sun-kissed, even innocent, moment of feel-good, hip hop-dancehall summer vibes. On the way out xx takes a full set of steak knives to Freeeze’s early ‘80s dancefloor classic I.O.U. and turns it into modern dub-disco of the freakiest kind. Before In Colour, Jamie xx was best known for giving Gil Scott Heron’s entire final album, I’m New Here, a stunning overhaul; now he’s stepped out on his own, we get a proper glimpse of the impressive level of talent at work.