Review | Jamie xx | Girl + Sleep Sound

Review | Jamie xx

Girl + Sleep Sound

Jamie xx 
"Girl" w/ "Sleep Sound"

bass \ bãs \ adj + house \ haus \ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ vb

With company like Four Tet, James Blake, and SBTRKT—and these days even Moderat— producer Jamie xx is very much part of an elite group of artists that is taking bass music in wildly divergent and endlessly interesting new directions. While most of the productions Jamie touches have a quality that makes them hard to ignore, the young talent's latest EP is a next level attention grabber. If you're social media feeds have been littered with links to both "Girl" and "Sleep Sound" before it (like mine have), then this is something you're likely to be keenly aware of already.

"Girl" sees Jamie xx breaking his own mold to a degree, with a lurching mid tempo boogie groove that's considerably less sparse and skittish then his signature 21st century 2Step tendencies. Cavernous echoes from a chorus of sourced vocals swell in and out of the mix alongside bellowing blasts of orchestral french horns while a dominate male soprano sing-songs above the fray.

The whole affair has a lush '80s pop aesthetic to it, a trend that's been weaving its way  through bass music of late—with Burial's "Hiders" and "Come Down to Us" being two prominent examples. It's difficult to picture an artist of Jamie xx's calibre sitting in one place for too long, and his litany of remixes for stars like Florence and the Machine and Adele were bound to send him into new territory at the crossroads of rich pop music and the spaced-out dance music he and his contemporaries favor. It's a pocket of sound we hope he continues to experiment in.

More familiar, maybe, but no less inventive in his use of space and ability to freak familiar R&B vocal riffs into a rhythmic frenzy of afro-soul-broken-beat, Jamie xx's "Sleep Sound" is not a track to be relegated to b-side status. In fact, appearing as early as last November in Spanish artist Pional's Fact mix—though unaccredited—it's a track that has been in heavy rotation by a handful of closely monitored tastemakers who are sure to solidify the track's place as one of this summer's highlights.

A steady twinkle of harp sets the ambiance from the start of "Sleep Sound." With the inclusion of a peppering of percussive coos, the track's 2step shuffle follows with more slinky coos in tow. Building suspense across deep valleys of quiet before returning full tilt to its tribal rhythms, it has all the signifiers of a dance floor groove, without any of the tropes that make much of electronic music an overrated and fleeting fad these days. 

Like rising talent Jacques Greene, Jamie xx represents a breed of producers who exist on the outskirts of pop music but whose work at its fringe will eventually seep into the mainstream. When it finally takes hold, all of our ears will be the better for it.

Joshua P. Ferguson



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