Jamie xx - In Colour - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jamie xx - In Colour

by Justin Pearson Rating:9 Release Date:2015-06-01

Much has already been said regarding the minimalism and space that informs most of The xx's music. It's not surprising then that producer Jamie Smith (Jamie xx) is just as adept at applying that same aesthetic to dance/house music here on his solo debut, In Colour. The songs overwhelm not so much with their clear-eyed meticulous construction - which is to be lauded in its own right - but rather an openness that's awash with possiblity.

Just like real colours and their various shades evoke an appetite - one that's whetted with a desire for absorption since you can't physically touch them - In Colour offers itself to the palette as a whole array of textured, tasty morsels. The tracks are thoughtfully sequenced and laid out according to their moods like a sumptuous meal. If you miss the main course, you're missing vital sustenance.

The "Oh my gosh" vocal sample on opening track 'Gosh' becomes an internalised echo of the impression it leaves after you've heard it the first time. Each subsequent listen improves upon the last. It ripples slowly like a boulder being dropped into an ocean of euphoria. Booming, doom-like drone-bass builds into a warm, slithering electronic wail that injects its sun-ray heroin into your veins. It's fresh, utterly hypnotic and drawn from a nostalgic happiness for the ghosts of house music's past, floating up somewhere into that bygone ether of bouncing heads and glowstick rave-hands.

'Sleep Sound' alternates between muffled/quiet and clear/loud while maintaining a vibe that's both laid-back and busy. It feels like coming up for air after being underground for years and then given the freedom to explore an alien yet familiar world.

xx bandmate Romy Madley Croft guests on 'Seesaw.' It sounds like a moment in a club late at night when the noise is drowned out by the late hour, and its subsequent relationship concerns as you bump your way through the crowd of dancers and onward home. Her weary vocals give voice to her insecurities: "On a seesaw/ up and down with you/ I saw her again with you."

'Loud Places' again features Croft as a lover musing among a throng of people. This time there's a certainty that's infectious as she sings "I go to loud places/ to search for someone/ to be quiet with/ who will take me home." It too radiates a club atmosphere, but the cluttered ambience ironically invites an introspection that represents a turning point - the point where love becomes something more and moves beyond stasis - in essence, further and profoundly toward ecstasy. You can sense this in the male vocal sample/chorus: "I feel music in your eyes/ I have never reached such heights."

'Obvs' feels healing with its tropics-infused steel-pan melody amid the distant din of disembodied voices that seem to rise from some past tribal ritual. With an offering this sublime, meaning is just fine alone in the back seat.

The repeated plea of "I want your love" on closing track 'Girl' aims itself at the heavens; not the heavens of the afterlife, but a love life. It insists on what it wants, erratically pitch-shifting along with a slowed guitar-line before settling on the normal heartbeat-bass pulse (only seven beats), and then bursting open with shards of emotion. There's too much love to contain for more than a brief four seconds (the 1:19-to-1:23 mark, to be exact). It embodies the boundless joy that most of the album is concerned with.

In Colour suggests the opposite of black and white not only in name, but in the layers of sound-strips that swathe the record with a luminous optimism. Once you peel the pieces back to reveal its multi-flavoured center, a cleansing begins to take shape and fills in a void you never knew existed. Jamie Smith has propped up his easel with a steady hand, dipped his brushes in and painted an other-world of healing for hearts and souls past, present and future. It's club music for the rest of us, and one of the best records of the year.

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