My highlight of this week goes to British musician and producer James Blake. He rapidly rose to fame in 2011 when he was named runner up on the BBC Sound Of poll, with his self titled debut album going on to chart within the top 10 in the UK and earning him a prestigious Mercury Prize nomination.
You only have to give tracks such as ‘The Wilhelm Scream‘ or ‘Limit to Your Love‘ an attentive listen to realise that this talented musician has a real knowledge of composition within his genre, creating electro which is soothing and engaging all at once. Although the debut received critical acclaim, he was accused of ‘selling out’ by the fans who made him so successful. Fans disliked the departure from his house party/basement circuit origins, where he was synonymous with synth heavy electro and bass notes.
So when he followed up his debut earlier this year, he returned with what I can only describe as a masterpiece. Overgrown acts almost like a piece of artwork, it is one entire collection that must be appreciated and observed as a whole. He appears to answer his early critics, as this album is far more experimental. The sublimity of ‘Retrograde‘ enthrals you and makes you realise that Blake is a talent of a generation. I will forewarn you: you must submit yourself to surprise with this album, especially if you have heard any of Blake’s previous work. The direction of tracks is abandoned entirely on the likes of ‘I Am Sold‘ but this is what I find so ingenious. As the music becomes unpredictable it makes you listen even more thoroughly.
Once again, it is an album you need to listen to at 2am through powerful headphones to really appreciate the ingenious craft of the LP. Tracks such as ‘Digital Lion‘ have a complete new dimension to be discovered because the synth becomes so subtle. It has gotten me through many all nighters before uni deadlines, whilst delirious from staring at Photoshop. Overgrown has the power to remove you and take you somewhere so much darker. To anyone who loves synth and electro, this artist is a must listen.