Glaswegian imprint Numbers are warming up for a summer of suitably fine releases with a new EP from Italian techno legend Lory D the first of several essential drops from Deadboy and Redinho.
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On the back of the impeccable teaser single “NY Is Killing Me”, Jamie XX’s overhaul of Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 album I’m New Here has long been pencilled in as a “must listen” at Juno Plus. If the resultant album delivered even half the forward-thinking, next-level thrills as that single, it would be an essential purchase. Now we’ve had a chance to listen to We’re New Here , that view hasn’t changed. It’s a bit good – though musically it holds a few more surprises than even “NY Is Killing Me” suggested.
Structured like an old-fashioned push-button mixtape with short interludes and skits between tracks, it has the feel of a hip-hop bootleg come good. In fact, its only fault is its short length – at 33 minutes, it’s over before you’ve had a chance to really savour its hazy charms. We’ve listened to it countless times and are still discovering new elements.
It’s true that there’s little quite as gorgeously upbeat and anthemic as “NY Is Killing Me” (included here with a delicious, piano-heavy intro skit), but there’s plenty to get excited about. Musically, it’s something of an eccentric audio soup – an atmospheric mix of loose, skittering beats – predominantly inspired, it seems, by the experimental hip-hop jazz of Madlib and The xx’s own paranoid compositions – booming basslines, sparkling electronic riffs, blissful guitar melodies, dreamy soundscapes and, of course, Scott-Heron’s distinctive narration.
There are, of course, occasional forays into more dancefloor-centric territory (see the delicious “Ur Soul & Mine” or the loose-wristed jazz-breaks of “The Crutch”), but the overall feel is far more laid back and spacious. It’s this vibe, coupled with such sublime moments as closer “I’ll Take Care Of U”, that makes We’re New Here such an addictive listen.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about last year was the flurry of creativity among some of electronic music’s brightest young minds: names like Space Dimension Controller, Nicolas Jaar, Ramadanman and Kyle Hall gained global recognition. Taking matters to an extreme, the Optimo guys even released an album of post punk covers from some pre-teen musicians! Not only are these young producers making their own material – they are spreading their wings across genres, releasing on wildly different labels and even, in some cases, running their own imprints.
It’s hard to think of a previous time when electronic music has crackled with this much prodigious creativity, and it’s against this exciting backdrop we have selected the following ten artists whose music we will be watching with a decidedly hawkish eye during 2011.
The recent announcement from XL that Jamie Smith from The xx has indeed completed a remix album to complement I’m New Here, Gil Scott-Heron’s critically acclaimed return to form was met with a unanimous “mate, we know!” Despite the label’s best efforts at stonewalling the news, Jamie’s been including tracks in mixtapes for the best part of six months. “NY Is Killing Me” marks a delightful taste of what to expect when We’re New Here arrives next February. Jamie xx flips the original’s dusted off kilter diwali twist for something that sounds oh so now, stretching Gil’s bluesy incantations over a backdrop of nagging melodic stabs and bouncing sub bass. The half step shudder that leads the way is augmented by haunting diva shrieks towards the glorious climactic introduction a plinking procession of marimbas. A truly special track, and one that bodes well for the full album as well as The xx beatsmith’s upcoming EP for NMBRS.