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There are very few young musicians who are known for both band work and solo success, but Jamie xx breaks the mould. Most solo musicians known for being in a band are like Phil Collins, Sting or Beyoncé – who have worked with a band and then split off after initial success. Not so the case for Jamie Smith. While working on his own dubstep/future garage work, he is also known for his critically acclaimed music as one third of The xx – an atmospheric indie pop group. Their songs, such as “Crystallised” and “Angels” have been hailed as great individual pieces feature multiple lead vocal parts and use understated instrumental parts to form dream sequences.
Where Jamie xx differs is that, in contrast to The xx, he creates ear-drum perforating tracks that are dance-based. “Gosh” is the latest example of his studio wizardry – and the focus of this ‘Best of the Bunch’ article. Focussing on sampled vocals, heavy bass (good speakers/headphones a necessity) and repetitive beats, Smith manages to create something that is richly textured, while constantly building towards an epic climax.
The climax in question comes from a spacey keyboard solo that reflects the accompanying video’s (footage used with the compliments of NASA) imagery. Sounding like a claxon amid the rave-influenced instrumental parts, the keys manage to cut through and wholly take over a track that says more through the music than through its sampled words.
Unlike the previous taster we’ve had in “Loud Places (feat. Romy), it is undeniable that “Gosh” benefits from multiple listens as the textures are unravelled like that ‘pass the parcel’ at your eighth birthday party. More is revealed after each layer is peeled away and the song becomes immensely catchy. What “Gosh” does most effectively though, is build up hype for the album that is to come on 1st June: In Colour. As Jamie xx’s first solo record – after a long time producing remixes and singles – Smith (still only in his mid-twenties) still has much to prove (as far as song-writing goes) despite his stupendously impressive list of collaborators. “Gosh” begins to do this…