James Blake – Set To ‘Do An XX’

Lend me you ears and I’ll bore at great length with my pseudo-sociological theory about why The xx have got so ruddy mahoosive…

In short(ish), the genre that shalt be named -i.e. trip-hop- for a long while was literally the biggest thing like ever, mainly because it crossed alternative indie and hip hop culture in a way that’d never been done before, with an acute balance of new genre freshness and dinner party inoffensiveness. It thus united pretty much everyone; the hip young muso kids, the old fogies wanting to be hip young muso kids, and every sorry bystander overhearing Radios 1,2,3,4, 5 and 6, which it simultaneously fitted snuggly on the playlists of. Well, maybe not 6.

It felt like a total revelation, when had a Cool New Sound unified such disparate groups of people before?


But needless to say the genre that shalt be named swiftly became pretty much the least cool thing ever.

But the band that eventually struck upon a way of harnessing those same elements, but re-appropriating the reference points into the here-and-now would be in for a sleeping giant of a reception. So fast-forward to 2009, that re-appropriation would go something like: instead of dub/hip hop culture, you use dubstep/dancehall and instead of Nineties alt.rock you go for fluttery anti-folk and Eighties new wave.

James’ avoids the old bill by only ever graffiti’ing in French.

This isn’t to say in any way that this re-appropriation was done remotely consciously. It most definitely wasn’t. Just a very happy coincidence. The xx are the least cynical, calculating chaps ever. I love them very dearly…

Wow, this has been quite a digression, I think I needed to get it off my chest…


James Blake is all set to dive head first into the pool that Putney’s finest have made so toasty warm of late. He’s our lead Radar feature in the mag this week. Go buy it for a lovely interview with him!

He’s a post-dubstep producer (I’m sure he’d prefer some convoluted moniker like sub-bass technician, or whatever) who caused a fair bit of stir in dubstep circles with some rather tortured-sounding cuts. But he’s recently started putting his classical voice training to use, creating a stunning selection of minimal compositions with his maudlin voice slicing through blanketing sub-bass ‘pooms’.

Annoyingly, we’re not allowed to play you any of the vocal demos we’ve got. But believe me, soon you won’t be able to escape them. What we do have are a selection of his best remixes to date, including a sneaky little bootleg number…

Untold – ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ (James Blake Mix)’

Harmonimix – ‘Bills Bills Bills’


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