James Blake – Overgrown (2013) 1


James Blake’s sophomore full lengthy record goes even further on the gospel and dubstep influences, delivering a work that really demands time to be entirely digested.

The self-titled track shows how this work will be sounding for the next 40 minutes. Overgrown is basically built with sample-loops and Blake’s fragile voice. None of songs presents crescendos/build-ups, so be prepared to have a solid, repetitive and minimalist listen experience. “I Am Sold” for example takes advantage of this homogeneous scenario, where the highest point is when Blake sings in a higher tone in the chorus. I particularly love the keyboard introduction in “Life Round Here”, which dropped me back to 00s and established a close bridge with some great records of that period, The Software Slump and Kid A, just to name some of essential ones.

There’s a pattern created with the above-mentioned loops, plus this groove layer and the gap between the beats. Actually I think he properly managed to deliver a very sexy atmosphere, which is way unusual to achieve as long we are dealing with an avant-garde effort covered in experimentation. That sexy appealing becomes evident in “DIm”, where Blake incorporated Antony Hegarty with angelical backing vocals. Again, all of this with desconstructed melodies that appear to come from, and lead to nowhere. Perhaps, these are the factors that score in favour for Overgrown.

When it comes to bad points, he could have focused and composed more songs like “To The Last”. You know, with an easier approach and yet weird and avant-garde. One thing we can be sure about. James Blake is not tied to standards. If in the future he finds a better blending for exoticness and melody, then something bigger may be ahead of us.

01. Overgrown
02. I Am Sold
03. Life Round Here
04. Take A Fall For Me
05. Retrograde
06. Dlm
07. Digital Lion
08. Voyeur
09. To The Last
10. Our Love Comes Back
11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)

Rating: 8.5

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