We've been playing, re-playing, and picking apart Jamie xx's new album for a good few weeks now. In Colour is not only packed full of floor-filling beats, but it's a record of nuance, finding as much strength in delicate motifs as it does in rattling breaks. It's safe to say, the devil is well and truly in the detail. With a record this intricate, you'd be hard pressed to find a more suitable setting to set it free than the Church of St John at Hackney. Now we're normally edgy as fuck mate, but the medieval parish is bit of a sight to behold, especially when full of blushing lights, strobing and refracting from the appropriately vivid stained-glass windows, but oi, don't tell the lads we said that alright?
Jamie xx opened his triumphant set with the album high-point, and legit summer cookout anthem, "I Know There's Gonna Be Good Times", and the room was instantly filled with Young Thug's chirping bars, Popcaan's rolling melodies, and more good vibes than a peak line-up edition of The Graham Norton Show. The far-reaching power of the music was largely down Jamie xx's collaborator on the party. The launch was powered by Bowers & Wilkins 'Sound System', a new speaker stack making its first appearance in the UK. Now, the day I start leaving shows talking about the PA will probably be around the same time I stop bothering with haircuts and get really into Dire Straits but that being said, on this occasion I'm going to have to make an exception.
The stack on display pulled off a pretty mean feat. As we've already noted, In Colour is a record full of minutiae, but at the same time is completely grounded in club culture. Essentially the tricky task presented by the album is raising the roof while communicating all of the tiny moments that provide so much character. The 'Sound System' managed just this. In genuinely bringing crystal clarity to the room, no nuances were lost. Yet the system also has the weight to spread a booming bass throughout the space, without leaving your ears screaming back into your head for the next week. It could be a significant breakthrough for dance producers taking their sounds to bigger spaces. We've talked to a lot of DJs who have bemoaned the fact that clubs seemingly favour volume over clarity. What Jamie xx was able to provide was both, perfect for an album that has its feet on the dance-floor but its head in the clouds.
His set played to this dynamic perfectly, rolling out selections from the new album like the grim rattles of "Hold Tight", or the big room breakbeat build of "Gosh". He wasn't afraid to weave in a few familiar favourites from his growing back catalogue, most notably the still unbelievably fresh Drake-poached stylings of "Take Care of You". The evening then swelled to a rousing finish, via the hymn-like majesty of "Loud Places" and finally the sweeping flourishes of "Girl".
Jamie xx has suffered a bit of a backlash since the release of In Colour, with some outlets going after his seemingly safe (read: middle class) take on dance music. Reading the crowd at his album launch on Friday, who were more than discerningly swept up in the proceedings, it is clear that for all the snarky shots-fired from veteran dance-heads and pious publications, this sound is striking a chord. In a climate where dance music is bleeding into alternative and mainstream music more and more, Jamie xx is an important figure. His DJ set was a fleshed-out victory lap, celebrating the best of his latest efforts, and the best of what's to come.