Monday, May 20, 2013

CD REVIEW ~ James Blake ~ Overgrown

With his first album James Blake sketched out a rough plan for future exploration. Most tracks had the thinnest sliver of a tune erratically woven through them. It was only on Wilhelm Scream and Limit to your love, tracks he didn't write, that you saw glimmers of what might be possible. The experiments were sometimes like scratches across a blackboard with loped vocal lines. Not quite easy listening. It was also quite difficult to find enjoyment in his more cutting edge work, it was cool and didn't provide a thrilling trip, one was just never quite sure how to take it.

The austere electronics are still often sparsely applied, crossing over each other, in not quite counter point.
Blake's voice is soulful, but has a thin winsome fragility, that often breaks in mid phrase, swallows and warbles back into the melody line. The title track Overgrown, exemplifies this style at the start then mid track develops a lush wash of sound falling over the voice like a waterfall.


 Any connection he had with dub-step seems a somewhat irrelevant one these days. He hasn't lost his sense for experiment, its just become more focused and refined. Digital Lion, co written with Brian Eno, Retrograde, Take a fall for me and Voyeur take you on a fantastic unexpectedly diverse journey. To the Last, the penultimate track, with its chiming bell keyboard refrain is quite the most beautiful thing he's written. The final track, Our Love Comes Back, is fittingly a straightforward real tune  presented without much fuss and clickety clicking. Almost electro -easy listening.

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