The late great British artist Derek Jarman’s last film was Blue; a conceptual piece released four months before his death in 1993 from complications caused by AIDS. He was pretty much blind by that stage and produced a feature constructed of an entirely blue coloured screen where the voices of his favourite performers narrated Jarman’s intimate thoughts and visions. It’s a powerful piece.
Jamie xx’s music video for Gosh reminds one of Jarman’s Blue for obvious reasons. In tact is Jamie xx’s signature sampled grime MC’ing and swooshing sawtooth basslines, but there’s ponderous momentum to the track that evolves into something unexpectedly beautiful, where synthesisers lift the piece to heavenly heights. Jamie xx’s adoration of early house music frames the structure of his output, building scant loops layered on top of each other because back then computers had massively limited processing and memory capabilities, thus making tracks like Gosh feel both a throwback and contemporary postmodern wonder. The intensely blue backdrop further focuses one’s attention to the many sonic flourishes on offer.
British rave culture, personally speaking, has always demanded thought and intelligence on the part of the listener. That means the truly great stuff requires multiple hearings to properly appreciate its dynamic brilliance. Gosh is no different.