Jamie Smith has proven to be a tremendously eclectic man. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if there was never another record by The xx (although I definitely want one, of course), because the band he plays in with Romy and Oliver is only a small part of his potential, which seems to be growing larger by the day. We haven’t even crossed the six-month mark of this year and what Jamie xx has released so far in 2011 is already spectacular: remixes for Adele, FaltyDL and Young Montana?, and “We’re New Here”, the reinvention of the recently sadly passed Gil Scott-Heron’s last album, which, morbid and inappropriate as it may sound, was perfectly timed. And after all that, now we finally get the much anticipated 12” on Numbers (Numbers!), linking him even more with the British electronic underground, after having conquered the pop and black music underground. He’s a predator.
At first, the two cuts on the vinyl aren’t that impressive, but they do require a special ability. One is bright ( “Far Nearer”) and the other is somewhat darker ( “Beat For”), like day and night, but those contrasts are typical for Jamie xx. The B-side is the one that brings him closer to present liquid dubstep: vocals fluctuating between low and high registers, in the vein of Burial, bubbling basses and a bassline that keeps hitting for five minutes as if it were a slow-motion rave inside a small and dark box. “Far Nearer” is a contrast, because it sounds like summer, with influences from the Afro-Caribbean community of London (and also from funky house), with steel drum sounds and vocals like Deadboy on holiday in Trinidad. And I think the boy hasn’t reached his peak yet.