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Album Review
We're New Here

We're New Here
by Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx

XL Recordings

Review Date
12th April 2011
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

Iím New Here was an excellent return to form for Ď70s music pioneer Gil Scott-Heron. The all-too-brief album marked the end of a long hiatus for Scott-Heron and hopefully showcased his singular talent to younger fans. However, for an album that was so heavily based around Scott-Heronís impressions of New York, it seemed a risk for a precocious Londoner to take on the re-mix. However, Jamie xxís take on the album makes it sound even much more optimistic than Scott-Heronís piece. Whether itís as resonant as Gil Scott-Heron on his lonesome is certainly arguable, but Jamie xxís effective re-casting of the tracks and canny use of Scott-Heronís voice makes for a highly enjoyable and moody listen.

The album came out of mutual fandom (or at least, Scott-Heronís producer was a big fan of the xxís debut album). The two barely communicated about the album, a few letters here and there, and while Scott-Heron is given equal credit, this is much more of a Jamie xx creation. The albumís contrasts Jamie xxís deeply contemporary use of electronica: dubstep, ambient, drumíníbass etc with his use of Scott-Heronís archaic voice. Older Scott-Heron samples are thrown in alongside other eclectic samples (Rui da Silva, Gloria Gaynor etc.). The album is so eclectic that it sometimes doesnít completely cohere, but there are some wonderful moments throughout Ė the evocative ĎMy Cloudí, the slippery ĎNY Is Killing Meí, and not least of all, the album closer, ĎIíll Take Care of Uí.

Weíre New Here becomes a fitting and deeply reverent tribute to Scott-Heronís influence on modern day music Ė indeed, electronic, hip-hop, disco, funk etc. were all indebted in some small way to Scott-Heronís music. And Jamie xx is happy to doff his hat to Scott-Heron, turning him into an Old Testament prophet and forcibly filtering what was originally a jaded and decadent album through the fresh music Scott-Heron inspired.