Jamie XX | Concord Music Hall | Dance | Chicago Reader
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Jamie XX

Jamie XX

Flavien Prioreau

When: Thu., Oct. 8, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: sold out
Many of my friends who love electronic music derisively compare British producer Jamie XX to bald big-beat dweeb Moby, and it’s a fair complaint. In the 90s, Moby brought the drug-­fueled decadence of early-90s New York house and techno to mainstream radio by cutting down track lengths and splicing old blues and gospel samples onto New Agey keyboard lines and programmed beats; he explicitly connected the sweaty euphoria of rave culture to the emotional heights of more “traditional” forms of American music. Similarly, Jamie XX has brought UK rave to a mainstream audience (his single “Loud Places” has racked up more than 18 million streams) by reducing running times, incorporating brief vocal snippets, and lacquering his beats with New Agey keys. But his aim seems less interesting than Moby’s: rather than connect rave to older forms of music, Jamie XX merely softens it, whether by eliminating the sinister elements of trip-hop (in his group the XX) or blunting the acerbic bite of Gil Scott-Heron’s music (on the 2011 remix album We’re New Here). On his debut solo LP, this year’s In Colour (Young Turks), he blends various electronic-music touchstones in efficient yet lazy ways: he transforms ’ardkore into something that would’ve fit on Another Green World (“Gosh”), sprinkles plinky harp samples and foggy soul singing onto a dubstep beat (“Sleep Sound”), and mashes together contemporary gangsta rap, dancehall, and Kanye West’s “Good Life” (“I Know There’s Gonna Be,” featuring Young Thug and Popcaan). These are all extremely well-crafted and catchy songs, but they lack edge and adventurousness. As a DJ and live performer, on the other hand, Jamie XX is both exciting and unpredictable, something he proved during his set at this summer’s Pitchfork festival.
— Tal Rosenberg
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