Saturday, 19 February 2011
Recommended music: 'We're New Here' by Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx
Take one elder statesman of music, who practically invented rap, and who has battled more demons, often unsuccessfully, than you or I would care to contemplate. Add one super-hot musician & remixer, fresh from Mercury prize success, young enough to be the vocalist's grandson (or probably great-grandson). Mix well and what do you get? A brilliant re-working of Gil's 2010 album 'I'm New Here' which sounds even better than the original. Full credit to Richard Russell for making both the original album and this remix set happen.
Scott-Heron apparently had a lot of input into this album, communicating regularly with Jamie & meeting him a few times. I think it's as a result of this that the album is so successful - the styles are more varied than you might be expecting, and the snatches of words and longer pieces of vocal sit really well with the music and beats. There are snippets of older Scott-Heron tracks dropped in, and Jamie mixes newly-written music with sampled sounds to create something that sounds both cutting-edge, and an organic development from the original work.
Choosing one person to remix the album is probably one of the keys to success here - some remix sets end up sounding disjointed and all over the place, whereas this has an overall sense of completeness - the tracks feel right together and it feels like a collaborative effort rather than something put together in isolation.
If you have some extra cash to spare you should invest in the boxset (available here http://www.werenewhere.com/ ) which has the remix album, plus an extra disc of instrumentals, on both cd and pink and green heavyweight vinyl - see pic below.