New-age tunes

music review

New-age tunes

James Blake, then 22, became a cult hero in electronic music circles in 2011, after his eponymous debut album. Blake’s talent stems from the fact that he is a classically trained pianist and has a good voice. His sophomore album Overgrown has smooth chords, moody atmospherics and a consistent soundscape. It creeps up slowly on the listener.

The album begins with the slow-paced title track Overgrown. The number is a precursor to what is to follow.  I Am Sold is a piano-based track serving as a showcase for Blake’s vocal talent, a piano-voice blend that is seen in other tracks in the album. In Life Round Here, Blake begins with the synths, adds staccato drum beats, strips away the synths and then withdraws the percussion to let go the synths berserk.

In Take a Fall for Me, Blake effectively uses rapper RZA, who goes poetic with unrequited love, while Blake remains in the backdrop with his minimalist sound. Retrograde is an interesting experiment, but does not have the mass appeal of a catchy number. DLM is a short bluesy track accompanied by the acoustic piano and Blake’s vocals. In Digital Lion, Blake has collaborated with Brian Eno, the king of ambient music. True to the latter’s style, it is hypnotising and mesmerising. Voyeur has a piano intro and is heavy on lyrics.

To the Last is like a typical wedding song with lyrics like “To the last, you and I.” It opens with a chorus of bells, followed by tender tones signifying lasting love. Blake is out to prove his vocal dexterity and virtuosity. The album ends with a ‘tame’ song, Our Love Comes Back, with skeletal music and matching lyrics (“Our love comes back in the middle of the night”). On the whole, James Blake is an artiste to watch out for.

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