While I waited for The xx’s Coexist to match the minimalist thrills of their debut album, and as I pondered why I still lifted my skinny fists to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend despite its (glorious) predictableness, I discovered an album that struck a darker and colder atmosphere than the former, with all the devastating inclinations of the latter: Raime’s anticipated debut LP Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is a tense, terrifying excursion of brutal ardour, casting a post-industrial gloom over much of anything I’ve been listening to this year. – Dan.
mp3: Raime – Your Cast Will Tire
Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is out now on Blackest Ever Black.
“I did not become someone different that I did not want to be, but I’m new here“.
With Bill Callahan‘s deadpan delivery, these words don’t elicit much empathy. Instead, they operate in a normalised, everyday context, an idealised Smog world celebrating the commonplace, where being new is but one point in an ongoing, repeated cycle of living and reliving, just as it is.
Under Gil Scott-Heron‘s interpretation five years later, those same words take on very different meanings. Stripped of their comforts, they sound slightly upsetting. Who didn’t you want to be? What had you become? What are you doing here? For Scott-Heron, turning around isn’t about returning, but becoming something, someone new. There is redemption, and hope of true transformation, just like his own.
I was skeptical about Jamie xx‘s remix, but my intuition couldn’t be more wrong. Was a remix of a cover necessary? Clearly not, yet it shows itself to be the most surprising. The audacity of sharing that ‘newness’ with Scott-Heron and rearranging his lines seems to actually render that transformation complete, going as far as making redemption the sweetest thing, just as we like it. – Dan.
mp3: Smog – I’m New Here
mp3: Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
mp3: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – I’m New Here
Smog’s A River Ain’t Too Much To Love (2005) was released on Drag City. Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here (2010) and Jamie xx’s remix album We’re New Here (2011) are out now on XL.
we weren’t planning to go at first, but at the last minute, b and i got ourselves passes to see the xx and florence and the machine at the esplanade (many thanks v and a!). bursting with enthusiasm, florence delivered a spectacular show of epic proportions, with impressively high energy levels sustained to the very last song. in very stark contrast, opening band the xx operated with the barest of setups, presenting every note and breath to the audience’s scrutiny. barring some rather disastrous sound engineering for the first few songs, the atmosphere they created was indeed crystal in the air, with songs that threatened to break into a party always reined in just in time in deferment to their consistently brittle state. but there were also times when chill also meant more tension and build-up, like “shelter” which the band seized by the throat and cruelly refused to let go, leaving it throbbing with such haunting and terrifying beauty. – dan.
mp3: the xx – shelter
how exactly do you pin down what counts as “fresh”? for music, i guess it usually means a new sound that’s original rather than purely derivative, something that basically sounds different, in a good way of course. listening to the xx, “fresh” takes on another shade of meaning. the first track that introduces me to romy madley croft’s voice is “vcr”, which sounds freshly opened, like something hidden from view finally seeing the light of day. i particularly like how the music gives the space for her duet with oliver to breathe, and it’s refreshing how each instrument, from the delicate xylophones to the vocals, makes itself comfortable in its own corner and leaves plenty of room for the others. and it’s fresh for me as a listener as well. whenever the song gets broken down to the simple line: but you, you just know, you just do, every break is punctuated ever so gracefully, like a moment that hangs mid-air in quiet assurance. – dan.
mp3: the xx – vcr
xx is now out on young turks.