GIL SCOT­THERON AND JAMIE XX We’re New Here ( XL/ Young Turks)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - — Robert B. Ker

‘We’re New Here’ does what many great al­bums do: it drops you into a strange new world and then shows you around.

When Gil Scott-Heron sur­faced in 2010 with his first col­lec­tion of new ma­te­rial in 16 years, the re­sult­ing al­bum,

I’m New Here, was more or less ex­actly what you’d ex­pect: a soul­ful, in­tro­spec­tive por­trait of the artist as a cagey sur­vivor and a batch of songs that fresh­ened the con­cept of the griot while sub­tly re­mind­ing lis­ten­ers of Scott-Heron’s role in hip-hop’s con­cep­tion. The al­bum was rightly cel­e­brated but con­tained lit­tle sur­prises out­side of its very ex­is­tence — which, ad­mit­tedly, was enough. By com­par­i­son, this remix al­bum by Jamie Smith of the xx is a con­stant rev­e­la­tion. When Scott-Heron starts off by say­ing “I’m new here,” you be­lieve him; this is strange ter­ri­tory for all but those who fol­low up-to-the-sec­ond elec­tronic mu­sic trends. In­deed, Smith gives Scott-Heron a min­i­mal­ist back­drop of deep bass and stut­ter­ing per­cus­sion that cy­cles through many of these trends, from dub­step to IDM, disco to drum and bass. Smith even sam­ples Scott-Heron’s ear­lier singing on stand­out tracks “My Cloud” and “I’ll Take Care of U,” cre­at­ing an echo cham­ber in which Scott-Heron’s voice wraps around it­self and springs off of the lively rhythms. The remixes aren’t “im­prove­ments,” but they’re not in­tended to be. We’re New Here does what many great al­bums do: it drops you into a strange new world and then shows you around.

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