Jamie xx and Four Tet - Seesaw

It is only a radio rip, but what an excellent piece this is from two of our fair country’s best upcoming producers. The Young Turks labelmates come through with a laidback instrumental that has all the hallmarks of their best work, yet manages to sound like nothing either has produced individually.

It’s quite brilliant what a few easygoing synths and a quickfire percussion can do. The layers intertwine wonderfully throughout, and between an electro-styled synth, a drifty, airy vocal sample, assorted blips and short melodies, there’s something surprisingly cohesive and deliciously bright throughout. It’ll certainly evoke a summer feeling for many, and credit goes to the duo for incorporating both the eclectic style of Four Tet’s work with the laidback effortlessness often associated with Jamie XX.

No word on an official release (or none that I’ve seen), but fingers crossed this will emerge in full, high-quality glory soon. Or at least in time for the week of summer that we’ll get.

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Jamie xx-Sunset Remix (Video)

Many understandably find it odd when an act remixes one of their own songs, but to me, it shows that a song doesn’t have to be cut loose and full stopped when complete; there’s room to move a track in another direction. That’s not saying a song needs improvement, but simply applying its component pieces in a different way extends its life beyond one mode of output.

And that’s what Jamie does with this remix. It’s by and large all the same parts that made up the original, but shuffled around a touch, most notably with the dulcet guitar plucks altered into a more stunted approach, whilst the changes are embellished by crisper percussion and a higher tempo. There are segments which are near-identical to the original too, particularly the first half of Romy’s vocals, and hence it feels like a sideways move on the original rather than attempting to completely overhaul it-a move that I’m on board with, given the original’s fantastic quality. The rework ends up retaining the dark, moody vibe of its origin work, but injects a touch of energy and positivity that makes it much better suited to the summer than the original, and hence is a good reimagining of the piece.

The video is made up of footage from a French TV show, and whilst the throwback clip clearly has no direct or obvious link to the song, its minimal, oddly hypnotising nature links up to the audio well. Worth a watch, and definitely worth a listen.

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The xx-Chained (Video)

Here is our new video for Chained! Directed by Young Replicant, who were a pleasure to work with. Spending 2 days underwater wasn’t quite as easy as we thought. We love how it turned out, hope you enjoy too, xx The xx.

One of the first releases from Coexist back in early August, and as one of the strongest tracks on the album it’s a great choice for a video.

Filmed in partnership with The Creators Project, the colour palette of the video is excellent throughout, with their sombre qualities of the beat captured by the range of greys and blues, whilst the more upbeat vocals are represented in the ocassional bursts of ‘oil slick’ rainbow colours. That theme sets up the rest of the video nicely, with an empty, bleak dock livened by the activity of the band as they jump into the still waters, once again visualising the differing segments of the song, whilst being visually impressive in the almost-ethereal underwater scenes. It’s all accompanied by a grand sense of scale that every shot emanates via the surrounding emptiness and calm of each landscape, and the whole package makes for visually engaging viewing that complements the audio terrifically. Stream and buy the album here if you haven’t already done so.

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The xx-Angels (Four Tet Remix)

Only a radio rip for now, but the sheer promise of having The xx and Four Tet together makes it worth bearing with the imperfect quality.

Unlike several other remixes, Four Tet opts to retain the gentleness of the original track but without actually using much of the original production. He’s instead thrown together a sleepy, dreamscape-style production with soft electronic melodies and pillowy bass, before heading to a distorted and unusual production in the middle section, and finally closing off with the two beat styles blended together. Atmosphere and aura ooze out of this one, and look out for a release on vinyl in the coming weeks.

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The xx-December 2012 UK Tour

Their Coexist album has been met with plenty of praise and satisfaction by their fans, though the first week sales were a little lower than I expected at 58k. In support of the album, they’ve announced a handful of dates across the country, the pre-sale for which begins tomorrow at midday.

Brighton Dome – Thursday 6th December
O2 Academy Newcastle – Tuesday 11th December
Wolverhampton Civic Hall – Wednesday 12th December
Bristol Colston Hall – Friday 14th December
O2 Academy Brixton – Sunday 16th December

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The xx-Reconsider

Those of you who either streamed this album or got it through more nefarious means may have missed out on this one, set to be a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the album.

Japan always gets the good stuff. This is one that would have slotted in beautifully on their first album, with a haunting melancholy that isn’t quite as dominant on Coexist as it is on the debut LP. The dueting vocals are a real highlight here too; it offers a nice complement to Romy and Oliver’s individual section, providing a vocal performance from the duo that certainly ticks all boxes. Really worth a listen, and hopefully this will be available for purchase over here at some point.

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The xx-Coexist (Full Album Stream)

This leaked a couple of weeks back, and I can confirm it’s another stunning LP from the incomparable collective of The xx.

Stylistically, it isn’t a huge departure from their debut album, there are enough deft changes to make this stand out in its own right. In particular, several of the tracks boast a comparatively upbeat nature, largely through more positive lyricism and percussion with a little more speed and vibrancy, without being overly extroverted or opposed to the regular chillout nature of the production. Free stream available below, and you can pre-order the album here (due for release next Tuesday).

The xx-Coexist

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The xx-Angels (Live in Tokyo)

Coexist is mere weeks away now, and the single that seems to be gaining traction by the minute recieves another boost with this superb performance.

Filmed whilst out in Japan on a recent tour, their hotel room is converted into a makeshift performance area, only adding to the intimacy of this tender track. Under the assumption that there weren’t any post-edit tweaks (which is unlikely), the vocal and instrumental performance is absolutely flawless throughout, as Romy retains the beauty and gentleness of the studio version’s work in both aspects with a great performance.

The nighttime scenery and various cuts to other members of the band certainly help to set the scene and match up to that mental picture many of us had on hearing Angels, which is essentially all you usually want from a music video. And yet, this isn’t the video for the song. Very enjoyable stuff, and you can pre-order the album right now.

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The xx-Chained

Angels hasn’t even been at threat of leaving my rotation, and it looks like it’s quickly about to be joined by the second release from The xx’s upcoming sophomore album, Coexist.

As with the aforementioned first single, this is stylistically similar to their debut album, which will come as a welcome announcement for many. I’ve said it before but there’s always the threat that bands try to change it up too much, and The xx instead stick with what they’re excellent at, combining alternative, R&B and several other genres into a delicately cohesive product. It’s a touch livelier than Angels, opening with a much more active bass and quickly supporting that with additional percussion, whilst Oliver’s back to leading vocals with his deep, often-hypnotic tones, his dueting with Romy throughout being a real highlight of the track. The track also brings back those sharp yet atmospheric plucked melodies towards the end (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it), offering a clear sonic tie-in to their previous works, and this is another almost effortlessly superb bit of music from the trio.

The album drops on 10th September, and you can pre-order it here.

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The xx - Angels (The Confect Remix)

A truly excellent example of remix for you here. The xx’s single is a wonderfully tender effort, and this remix adds a selection of delicate touches to make the track a little sharper without losing the original’s lightness.

The key addition is the percussion, giving the track a rigidity and structure not found in the original, and though that’s intentional for the style The xx were going for, you can’t help but find that its inclusion here makes the track a much easier listen (before you jump at me, I didn’t say ‘better’). The further subtle additions, from increasing the prominence of the main melody to the effects on the vocals are all in keeping with the existing soundscape, and this is a thoroughly superb remix that stands up well alongside the original. EDIT: If you’re after a download link, The Confectionary have kindly made one available here.

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The xx-Angels

With The xx’s second album, Coexist, set to land on 10th September, we’re treated to the first single from the project and it’s a great effort that picks up where their debut left off.

The production draws on some familiar elements, with stop-start percussion, bassy plucks and synthesised melodies combining for a haunting and atmospheric track that’s full of the minimalist beauty that endeared many to The xx 3 years back. Romy’s vocals are soft yet emotional throughout, reflecting the introspective, love-driven lyricism well and synergising wonderfully with the production, as she always seems to do. It’s stylistically close to their universally-loved previous work, and I’d say any fans who wanted more of the same from the group will be in for a treat. I’ve seen criticism for the track on Twitter, possibly from those who wanted The xx to switch it up, but when they have this formula so well refined, why would they distort it? Too many bands get change-happy, and I’m glad they’ve stuck with what they’re good at.

You can pre-order the album in various spots, each of which will also result in you getting a download of this very track at midnight tonight.

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Jamie xx-Progress Video

Jamie xx and Quayola recently brought their creative vision to life, live in Shoreditch. Using two 15-metre HD screens, Quayola and his team, Abstract Birds, created live sound visualisations of Jamie xx’s set using their bespoke Partitura software.

A fantastic bit of technology here, and probably the closest thing I’ve ever seen to simulated synesthesia: you almost see the sounds come to life, as the visualisations have a very anthropomorphic quality in their movements and pulsations. It’s essentially the basic concept of a visualiser, but amplified via some very abstract thinking, and of course is aided by an excellent instrumental from the talented Jamie xx. Blending together soft bass hums, airy synths and a mixture of electronic sounds, Jamie creates a mellow and intricate production that only has one flaw: it’s far too short. Hopefully an extended version surfaces soon, but for now enjoy this unique audio-visual.

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Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX-I’ll Take Care Of You Video

Probably the best track from their collaborative album, and hence a great choice to give the visual treatment. It’s a fantastically unique bit of music, and they’ve certainly done it justice with a video that really captures the imagination.

It would have been easy for the duo to grab some camera time for themselves, but being pretty artistic guys they’ve shown their integrity here as they spotlight the struggles of a single mother who also has a challenging line of employment: boxing. The boxer analogy always works well with music, as it spotlights the personal battles of people and both visualises and compares them with actual physical battles.

It’s a sport from which the ‘glamour’ can be easily removed too, and hence generally works very well when placed with a meaningful track. Here, the story certainly works with the audio to make this a realistic, relatively feel-good package (helped by the pretty adorable kid!) that is definitely worth a watch.

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Jamie xx-Beat For

New solo material from Jamie xx is always a rare treat, and having really cultivated his reputation in recent months with a spate of remixes (including this remix album), there’s no shortage of anticipation for his material either.

The quality is far from perfect, but you can get a pretty good feel for the track. It’s heavily experimental, veers into offbeat sections at times, and switches between minimalistic styles and busier sections. This bipolar, schizophrenic style makes it pretty difficult to pin down and enjoy for me, as it seems to be trying to cram an awful lot in and hence is difficult to really get into. However, ears that are more accustomed to electronic, experimental and house music will be much more trained to the style and will surely enjoy the finer points of the track.

Jamie xx-Beat For

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Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx-We’re New Here (Full Album Stream)

Very nice surprise here, as the much-anticipated remix album from this unusual duo is made available for a full stream.

The previous two tracks made available have both shown the potential in this duo, fusing together Jamie’s experimental and often enjoyable production style with Gil’s diverse, vintage vocals to great effect. I’ve skimmed through the album very briefly, and it seems as though that quality is consistent throughout, as Jamie serves up a multitude of styles that manage to work with Gil’s voice, for the most part.

Fans of The xx will be clamouring for whatever new material they can get, and hopefully this collaboration has won over many others that weren’t previously familiar with either artist’s work. You can pre-order and listen to the whole thing in the widget.

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Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx-I’ll Take Care Of U

As the release date for their collaborative project draws nearer, we’re treated to another track from the highly-anticipated We’re New Here.

This has a considerably more positive feel than the previous offering, with Jamie serving up a lighter production that reflects off Gil’s voice with a positive exuberance. Lots of diversity in the production too, with keyboard melodies alongside futuristic synths, all served up over a mid-tempo percussion that keeps your head nodding all the way through.

It’s another nice show of eclecticism here, and I’m really looking forward to that album!

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Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx-NY Is Killing Me

Probably one of the most unexpected collaborations of the year. The legendary Gil Scott-Hero’s I’m New Here album from earlier this year is set to undergo treatment from Jamie of The xx, resulting in a full remix album entitled We’re New Here due out 21st February 2011. It’s been a huge 12 months for The xx, and it’s great to see Jamie getting involved in this sort of artistic diversity.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to give the original NY Is Killing Me the review and acclaim it deserved, but it was a really interesting track that was held together by nothing more than claps and the odd bass pound. Jamie strips that away in favour of an atmospheric electro production that manages to retain the slightly disquieting and uneasy vibe of the original. You can watch the video here, and grab the track/pre-order the album here.

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Jamie from The XX-Far Nearer

I’m not really sure how to describe this track. Before we get into that, some quotes from Jamie: “It’s a tune I made on one of our short breaks from touring and I was eager to make some new music. I got a steel pan and made this track”.

The steel pan influence is definitely heavy in this, and actually add a really nice light, playful feel to the track which otherwise has some pretty thick basslines (I’m not a dubstep fan, but these seem pretty close to that sort of stuff) which alternate with some thin percussion elements. It’s really unique stuff, and oddly compelling. Only a radio rip for now sadly, I’ll provide the high quality when I can.

Jamie xx-Far Nearer (Radio Rip)

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