Wherever You Go

More new stuff for this week in the shape of a multi- guest star release from The Avalanches. Sometimes projects with large numbers of guests feel a bit overwhelmed or weighed down them but that isn’t the case here. Wherever You Go is expansive electronic music, taking off with a sample from the Voyager Project, music sent into space with the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1977. Co- produced by Jamie xx and with Neneh Cherry and Clypso on vox and with piano from Mick Jones it sounds like a meeting of minds and talents, a song that picks up the pioneering spirit that sent music out of orbit and into the solar system and runs with it. The children’s voices suggest ’70s TV shows, the drums coming in just after two minutes and the pumping bassline make it more contemporary, and the layering of sounds, Clypso’s rap and sheer bounce of the last couple of minutes plant it in now. The promise of space exploration coupled with the sort of sounds that should be heard from a car radio passing by in the street.

‘Why do we send music to the stars? Is it because we want our voices to live forever? How else should we become pure spirits, singing forever in the dark?’

The Avalanches, July 2020

Fly Tipping And Remixing

We went for a walk on Sunday, up the canal and round the water-park, across Chorlton Ees, stopping for a pint on Chorlton Green and then back through the floodplain towards Ashton village. These places might not mean anything to you but they are green land around the Bridgewater Canal and River Mersey in south Manchester, rural feeling but with motorway, Metrolink and roads audible, and fairly full of strollers, dog walkers, cyclists and so on. On the walk, back towards Stretford cemetery there had been an enormous amount of fly tipping going on. And while I can’t condone this kind of large scale littering it provides some interesting subject matter for photographs. Other people on the walk took pictures of their kids in Christmas jumpers. When we compared the photos on our phones at the end of the walk my view of the afternoon was a little bit gloomier. This shot in the tunnel under Washway Road that looks like it’s from A Clockwork Orange.

Back in 2012 Four Tet and Jamie Xx remixed each other. This is an unsettling, disjointed and uneasy piece of work although the synths bring a certain kind of warmth..

Lion (Jame Xx Remix)

On Hold

I’ve got more and more out of The Xx as time has gone on. At first I thought they were impressive but easier to admire than to love. That’s changed over the years since their debut and its follow up, even more so after Jamie Xx’s solo album from last year. News came out on Friday that their third album will be released in January and in advance of it comes a single called On Hold.

The opening section with Romy and Oliver trading lines starts out sounding like an 80s power ballad but stick with it. The synth stabs coming in forty seconds and then the repetitive vocal sample (Hall and Oates) at fifty seconds take it elsewhere, into higher places.

While I’m in the Xx zone this Jamie Xx edit of Sunset off second album Coexist is a wonderful bass and kick drum led thing of beauty. The repeated guitar line building up to Romy’s vocal drop is magnificent use of tension and release and the end section is pretty amazing too.

I’ll Take Care Of U

Since my car was condemned to the scrapyard I’ve been driving a different car to work. Ok, alright, I’ve been driving my mother in law’s car to work. It has a CD player so I’ve switched from my in-car mp3 player and the world of shuffle to grabbing some cds from the pile next to the stereo waiting to be filed and working my way through albums instead. One of them is Jamie Xx’s remixed version of Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here, released back in 2011 as We’re New Here. Jamie kept the vocals and reworked the music entirely, sampling some of Gil’s older vocals too. The closing song, I’ll Take Care Of U, an old Brook Benton song, is one of the best and the one that most successfully takes Gil’s vocals somewhere else (London pirate radio).

I’ll Take Care Of U

We Do Not Need Anybody, We Are Independent

This song has been posted fairly recently over at the mammoth 200 songs rundown at When You Can’t Remember Anything At All. I’d been meaning to write about it for some time and a little repetition in our part of the blogworld is inevitable I think. Jamie Xx released a single back in 2014 that attempted to summarise and pay homage to the entire history of UK underground dance music. It is inevitably nostalgic but it is also totally contemporary and bang up to date. Using UK garage’s beats, some heavy bass and his own trademark steel drum sound Jamie builds a track in love with the music that inspired it. Throughout he uses vocal samples (taken from a short film called Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore) to illustrate it and drive it, starting with ‘You like junglist music?’, moving on to ‘we kept it UK, that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re keeping it going the same way, we’re all under one roof raving, laughing and joking, y’know what I mean’ and eventually finishing with the voice getting distorted as someone reels off clothing labels ‘Fila, Head, Kappa, Ellesse, Lonsdale, Sergio Tachini, Burberry, Diadora…’, neatly summarising the longstanding link between British dance music and British street wear. It is a pretty stunning and evocative piece of work, and it wasn’t even on the 2015 album In Colour that it clearly predicts.

All Under One Roof Raving

Didn’t I Take You To Higher Places You Can’t Reach Without Me?

Drew posted this last week but on the off chance that there’s anyone who missed it there or who reads this but not Across The Kitchen Table I’m going to share it here today. I’ve been playing it daily since I first heard it. John Talabot’s remix of Jamie Xx’s Loud Places. Drew called it mesmerising- which it definitely is. Add euphoric. And gorgeous. At ten minutes long, if you click replay twice that’s half an hour of your day gone in a blissful haze, lost with that line or two of Romy’s vocal isolated and repeated, and those wonderful drum patterns and synths. Between them Jamie, Romy and John also nail the happiness/sadness that is part of dance music and club culture- the communal joy of dancing against the loss of the lyrics. She’s not waiting around, she’s going, going, gone.

You Go To Loud Places

I’m still massively enjoying the Jamie Xx album. This John Talabot remix of one of the standout songs Loud Places strips it down, keeps Romy’s vocal and then goes synth crazy at the end. Probably works best in a club but still sounds good at home.

Loud Places

My first few listens of the Jamie Xx solo album have been very enjoyable- it’s got the tunes, it’s well paced, full of thumping and/or interesting drums and percussion, and moments of bittersweet euphoria. The sleeve’s lovely too. There’s a garage/dubstep influence on the some of the songs which keep it from being too tasteful and give it a rougher edge. The Rest Is Noise already sounds like being the song you’re going to hear out of open windows and on TV festival coverage. Another highlight is Loud Places, sung by bandmate Romy. This recent live performance from French TV has Romy singing and guitaring, a lively percussionist, a choir and Stella from Warpaint on drums.

In Colour

There’s been a lot of internet used up today with opinions about Spike Island, from naysayers and fans alike. I just read a review of the forthcoming Jamie xx solo album, In Colour, and then scurried off to listen to something off it. Listening to Gosh Jamie has taken that line from She Bangs The Drums and run with it- ‘the past is your’s the future’s mine’. It’s exhilarating, inventive and absorbing stuff. The staccato rhythm (sounding like the blood pumping through your head when you’re exercising and at full pelt), the build up and then the drama of the last two minutes is something else.

Wherever it was that I read the review said that Jamie’s album is about memories of UK rave and dance music (or something along those lines). That dance music is always about creating something new from the recent past. That this album is in colour compared to the black and white palette of The Xx. I’m up for all of that. Now I’m off to listen to Gosh again.