James Blake-Retrograde (Video)

After the incredible hype surrounding his debut album, I was hugely disappointed with it. Disjointed and seemingly badly mixed, it just didn’t strike a chord with me at all, but thankfully this single from his upcoming Overgrown album is significantly better.

It combines the dark, moody style he’s known for with a touch more brightness and energy, with the soft production initially composed of gentle hums and claps, before being joined by sharp, powerful synths that completely elevate the soundscape, which is progressively built on with a few more samples and effects, and finally brought back down to minimalism to close. Blake’s vocals seem much more notable too, as he adjusts superbly to the varying levels of activity in the backdrop, and generally approaches the track with much more verve and believable emotion than his previous works.

The video’s a rather cinematic one, and has an interesting paranormal quality. As the biker chases down the meteorite, a whole series of unusual and rather creepy events unfold, adding an eerie layer to the night pop style of the track. Grab the single on iTunes now.

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James Blake-Enough Thunder EP Stream

Having given his debut album a listen a few months ago, I’m admittedly rather underwhelmed by Blake’s material, but remain fully aware that he’s a very popular act. Unfortunately, I’ve struggled to see the appeal as the album seemed far too disjointed and attempted to cram in one too many influences, resulting in an album that sounded more messy than diverse.

However, I’m one to give artists second chances and having recruited the superb Bon Iver to help on one of the tracks, I’m hoping this one has a stronger sense of direction. You can stream the entire EP for free in the widget here, and pre-order the EP (released on Monday) if you’re impressed.

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James Blake vs. Drake-James Drake (Mashup Mixtape)

I wasn’t really sold on James Blake having listened to his heavily-overrated album, but in isolation some of his sombre productions were quite enjoyable. Pair them up with one of the more melodic, catchy rapper-singers in the game and there’s potential for a solid synergy of styles.

From the sections I have listened to, this did indeed work quite well both musically and contextually, with the general mood of the productions working in tandem with the original vibe of Drake’s vocals. Naturally, there are points where it doesn’t quite come together, but that’s the nature of the mashup ‘genre’ and still is worth checking out for the high points. Stream the full thing below, and/or download it at this link.

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Mickey Factz and James Blake-Fallin’

Prior to listening, I feel both good and bad. I feel good because it’s nice to see UK talent getting love from respected US rappers, and it’s also good to see it being Mickey specifically as he’s good with this eclectic stuff. However, I feel bad because I’ve listened to about half of Blake’s album and it’s not great (that’s being very kind…), with songs often sounding very badly organised.

Fortunately, the music has paid off here. Mickey’s spoken word-style verses make use of the ambient, atmospheric production Blake creates (some of his productions were good, he just can’t sync vocals), and throwing in the original vocals for the hook adds some much-needed structure to James’ work. Mickey’s lyricism takes advantage of the minimal nature of this beat too, and his thoughtful and reflective style is helped considerably by a unique delivery. Definitely one to check out for both the alternative and the hip-hop fans.

Mickey Factz-Fallin’ ft. James Blake

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