With their excellent 2009 self-titled debut, The xx ushered in the era of modern alternative R&B that’s now being brought to the masses by folks such as How To Dress Well, Kelela and most recently FKA twigs. On that album (and their 2012 follow-up Coexist), singer Romy Croft trades verses with bassist Oliver Sim to craft beautifully balanced sex for the ears that continues to get better with age.
Yet, upon playing either of those records on a pair of proper speakers, perhaps the most exquisite thing about The xx are the beats. Listening to The xx on iPod headphones is one thing, but listening to The xx on a sound system reveals a completely different band. Massive bass rumblings and drops underlie the minimalism of Croft and Sim’s exchanges and punctuate the songs’ climaxes. This is primarily due to a man who, while on stage, remains primarily in the shadows but who has stepped firmly into the spotlight over the last few years.
Since Jamie xx dropped his first mixtape as an accompaniment to The xx’s debut record, he has been taking the UK electronic scene by storm. He’s since remixed Gil-Scott Heron (an album recently named by GQ as one of the best 21 albums of the 2000s), Radiohead’s “Bloom” (a remix that made it onto their TKOL RMX 1234567 album), Florence + The Machine and Adele. Additionally, he produced the title track on Drake’s album Take Care. But, it may be his most recent solo efforts and hour-long mixes for the BBC that are earning Jamie xx his highest acclaim.
In April of this year, he dropped “Girl / Sleep Sound,” seven inches of beautiful, atmospheric future UK garage. He followed that up in June with “All Under One Roof Raving,” an ode to the influence of the UK hardcore scene on just about every English DJ and producer. Both of these tracks were then inserted into perhaps one of the best mixes of 2014 as Jamie xx worked from his perch on top of Young Turks' London headquarters, the current UK electronic super-label who, along with Jamie xx, count FKA twigs, SBTRKT and Wavves among their roster of talent.
Put it altogether and Jamie xx has risen to become one of the most prolific UK producers on the scene. His Portland appearance on Thursday, August 21 is sure to include his most recent singles along with some of the best future UK garage white label records coming out right now, many of which are made by artists that he counts among his friends. (James Blake and Jamie xx have traded releasing each others' recent singles.) And Rotture will be an intimate environment to experience it all firsthand.