After logging some 10 years with UK outfit The xx, resident producer Jamie Smith, better known as Jamie xx, decided to strike out on his own. Fans hoping for more moody, minimalistic numbers like those found on The xx’s 2009 self-titled album or 2012’s Coexist were immediately caught off-guard: Smith’s music was another kind of beast, one that lived and breathed on the dance floor and whose emotional core pumped blood at a much faster rate.
It wasn’t long before listeners realized that Smith possessed a sound palette far beyond what he’d exhibited as a member of the English trio. Sure, there were hints of his penchants for ambient and shadowy textures strewn throughout a number of The xx songs like “Intro,” “Chained” and “Islands,” but the English beatmaker, under the Jamie xx moniker, was now taking those experiments to a different level, incorporating them into everything from post-dubstep to house to trip-hop to soul. To judge him solely on his past work would have been like allowing museum goers to view only one half of a Picasso; the full scope of Smith’s artistry is only complete when his solo work is also considered.
This week, Jamie xx’s solo career reaches a milestone in the form of In Colour, his full-length solo debut and a record chock-full of sobering electronic spells, rave-ready anthems, meditative jams, and more. (“Gosh” alone is seriously worth a million and one “oh my gosh” exclamation points.) It’s not only an album that officially announces his arrival into the world, but, come December, could quite possibly be one of the serious contenders for best album of 2015. Like many of his previous one-off singles, the record proves his inventiveness and ability to make the familiar… unfamiliar; the old-school… fresh; the tired… exciting.
To celebrate Jamie xx’s willingness to do more, push boundaries, and reimagine stories that have already been told, we’ve listed a handful of choice remixes he’s done over the years, including ones for Radiohead, Adele, Florence + The Machine, and his own band, The xx. They not only show off his reworking chops, but also demonstrate his creative fearlessness when it comes to tackling various genres and high-profile acts.
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
You think you know this 2010 pop hit? Wait until you hear it with added percussion and glorious steel drums.
Radiohead – “Bloom”
The King of Limbs track sounds remade for the likes of haunted club floors.
Florence + The Machine – “You’ve Got the Love”
This one’s an extra special rework, as it also features members of The xx. Think normal Flo, but dashed with bass, manipulated vocals and an overall aura of low-key confidence.
The xx – “Sunset”
Yes, Jamie xx is essentially remixing himself here. Being a writer and editor, I know firsthand how tough it can be to revisit your own original work with a fresh pair of eyes. This new take on The xx album highlight is nothing dramatic, but there are minor tweaks here and there that offer a new spin. Plus, it’s almost two times longer, making it feel as though its pulsing atmospherics just may eventually swallow you whole. It’s not exactly a companion piece to In Colour’s “Loud Places”, but there’s certainly something about the way Jamie xx and The xx bandmate Romy Madley Croft melt together over simmering beats that’s sublime.
Four Tet – “Lion”
Again, both versions aren’t necessarily like night and day. However, Jamie xx shaves off 2 minutes and coats the reworking with a decidedly murky, mysterious sheen. While Four Tet evoked bold urgency and eeriness, Jamie xx is content with hiding his secrets from plain view.
Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx – We’re New Here
Technically, Jamie xx and Gil Scott-Heron put out an entire remix album together called We’re New Here. The 13-track LP featured reworkings of Scott-Heron’s original 2010 release I’m New Here, and served as an impressive feat in terms of seeing music through an entirely different lens.
Bonus: In Colour Alternate Mixes
Because of course the producer would take the time to remix his own album!
If you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to listen to the entire In Colour right now: