When it comes to Xaphoon Jones, there is almost nothing that I won’t listen to. With the sheer volume of material that floods the inbox, YouTube feed, Facebook wall, Twitter stream and saturates the blogosphere on a daily basis, it becomes increasingly difficult to really invest in an artist like you might once have. Surely, there’s the ability to totally raid an artist’s back catalogue, staking out even the most obscure demo tapes and B sides in the farthest, darkest regions of the Interwebz, but as much as there might be that imperative for discovery, it is constantly distracted by the promise of what lies elsewhere. The prospect of going narrow and deep is certainly there and hardcore fans can sate their appetites online but the attractiveness of throwing that all away and embracing the true breadth of what music on the Internet presents is an impulse hard to deny. Keeping on top of an artist’s output, especially one as prolific and well-connected as Xaphoon, takes patience and dedication and determination – the stuff I’ve been chewing on since I first dug Chiddy Bang all those years ago.
Having realised that Xaphoon now holds a much-coveted place in the pantheon of my Musical BFFLs (somewhere alongside Kanye, Lupe, The Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Friendly Fires, Spoon and Simian Mobile Disco, among others), that I would love this latest collaboration was probably beyond doubt before I even heard the first woozy synth line. Of course, staying on top of MBFFLs doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll agree with everything they put out. But having an opinion on the misfire that was ‘808s‘ or the strangeness that was ‘Intimacy‘ is just as important as being on the bandwagon for the ‘Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘ and ‘‘ triumphs. And so, while ‘Breakfast’ wasn’t the debut LP we might’ve hoped for from the Philadelphia duo after years of stellar mixtapes, I’ve kept the faith with Xaphoon as he’s gone from strength to strength on the production end of things, most recently enhancing St Lucia for his Fools Gold fam. As a drummer, Xaphoon knows how to make a beat, even one as sparse as this one, an update on a contemporary .
What is most remarkable about this release is how much restraint Xaphoon shows in updating but remaining largely faithful to the minimalist original. Continuing Ellie’s unblemished record of , this is the first (official) time that Xaphoon has hooked up with her but you get the sense, in the effortless way he manipulates those vocal samples which have come to define her sound, that they’re sort of made for each other. My biggest concern with Goulding’s debut ‘Bright Lights‘ was that it seemed to force her into tinny, hyperactive electronic production when her stunning falsetto so obviously demanded both lusher and warmer backdrops. With ‘High For This’, Xaphoon pares back the sound to a couple of finger snaps, light keys (question the 8-bit character from about 2’30″ in) and some no-nonsense bass and still makes it work. The result is infectious. Where The Weeknd tends to sound alternatively menacing and morose, Ellie’s voice is so pure (that break at 1’40″! Swoon!) that you can’t help but contemplate her illicit suggestion. It might well be the Xaphoon-tinted glasses but this looks like two young artists doing big things.
Ellie Goulding – High For This