Jamie Lidell hasn’t stopped moving.
He’s like a shark. Albeit a stone cold funked-up, sonically obsessed, romantically soulful killer shark. And he isn’t going to stop. No, he won’t stop. Please don’t ask him to. Just get out of the way, enjoy the spectacle and the soundtrack.
Jamie’s a genuinely restless soul. He broke out of small-town England and has been a nomad ever since. His constant desire to progress—leaping and stumbling towards new discoveries—has defined his musical journey so far; and there’s no sign of it fading away.
Dig into the discography and you’ll find underground techno, two albums of Super_Collider’s fondly recalled science-funk (with Cristian Vogel), and his magnificently wigged-out solo debut Muddlin Gear. Then, in 2005, came Multiply, a surprisingly hook-stuffed, meticulously produced platter of deliciously uplifting soul and funk that won international adulation. Meanwhile, Jamie’s one-man shows were, quite literally, something else. Live, he pushed himself and his technology against the limits of chaos and control.
By 2008, Jamie had become Jim—building on the foundations of Multiply to construct a warm, invitingly plush bordello of funk, disco, grooves and gospel; with secret chambers of poignant soul. The accompanying tour saw him evolve from peerless sonic manipulator into a dandy showman leading a blazingly talented four-piece across the world’s clubs, stadia and TV studios. Yet, that sense of exploration that he craves was never far away.
Now it’s 2010, and Jim has left the building. So Jamie returns with a new map for these territories. Undoubtedly, Compass is his most eclectic album yet. Songs shift, chop, change and mutate genres and forms before our very ears. It’s got funk in spades; the jaw-dropping power of the vocals is stronger than ever; it rocks, it pops, it’s sweet, angry, hard, soulful and soft, often within the span of a single track. It’s the restless album that finally matches the soul of its creator.
“I wrote every song in a month,” Jamie says, “It’s been an emotional couple of years, so I tapped into what I wanted to say and started writing. There was a lot to draw on.” Recorded in Los Angeles, New York and Canada, Jamie’s fellow travelers on Compass include Beck, Feist, Gonzales, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Pat Sansone of Wilco. Musically and lyrically this is very much A Jamie Lidell Production—reflecting not only his exhilarating, diverse tastes, but also a year of change, love, longing and arrival at a new place. When he takes to the road in 2010, he’ll be bringing a band again, but stripping it back; keeping it lean. For both newcomers and initiates, this will be an experience. And no, he won’t stop.