Jamie XX is at his quick-firing best with masterful new single, Idontknow
The single, his first solo non-remix work in the five years since his career-defining In Colour, sees him up the tempo.
Jamie XX has always been a club producer. While much of his career-defining 2015 record In Colour contrasted light flutterings of synthetic melodies with guest collaborators from Young Thug to The XX's Romy and Oliver Sim, a darker pulse underlined much of the album's rich grooves, from the maximalist crashing that builds on the album-opening Gosh to Loud Places - the album's most pop-centric work - which marries this subtle dark underlay with melodies so bright and crisp that it's often easy to skip over.
This darker pulse has been an undercurrent across Jamie's entire discography, whether it's subtle in contrast with lightness and joyfulness, or in the centre frame - something we haven't necessarily experienced from Jamie XX in a while, even if his remix of On Hold three years ago teetered on the edge of it. His last release, on production duties for UK rapper Headie One as a part of his hyper-collaborative GANG EP, showed that it was still present, even ten years post its initial debut. His new track, however - his first all-solo work in the five years since In Colour - proves that he has plenty of experimentation still to shine.
Teased in club sets from Ben UFO and Four Tet to Bicep and rising star HAAi, Idontknow grapples at Jamie XX at his maximalist best; the club culture and electronic experimentation that encouraged his entrance into dance music realised on a level more potent than anything he's put out in the last ten years, whether it's as a solo musician or as the production prowess behind The XX. Much more than that, it also feels like an ode to dance music's gradual progression, and the underground that often inspires new sub-cultures and the genres born from within them.
It's a sweeping rush of rhythms that have defined the evolution of dance music through its rise in commercialism. At parts, the single flutters with the subtle richness you'll find from those experimenting with the lighter minimalism of dance music - such as the more intricate and stripped-back details of Caribou and Tycho. Elsewhere, the track explodes into heaving, percussion-led mania; nods to drum'n'bass, UK rave, and jungle all weaving in and out of the rhythmic explosion that Jamie XX intricately places together with jigsaw-like precision.
Most of all, Idontknow signals Jamie XX's return - and that's worth celebrating. Regardless of what it sounds like, it marks a turbulent period flush with writer's block and uncertainty - "I made Idontknow as an outlet for my frustration over not being able to finish any music for a while," he says in a quote accompanying its release - and with Idontknow's arrival today, it feels like Jamie XX is ready to arrive too, once again.
Dive into the track below:
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