James Blake by James Blake on Apple Music

12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The British electronic pop artist James Blake was showered with attention and nominations in his native land in 2010 and 2011. That’s striking because Blake’s music is truly strange. Drawing on the weirder side of R&B as well as leftfield English dance music, the singer/songwriter crafts spare and spooky gems. On “Unluck,” simple electric piano (evocative of ‘70s Sly & The Family Stone), itchy rhythmic tics, and sound blurts serve as a backdrop as Blake sings, at times through a vocoder. The track sounds like something you would hear while a producer was tinkering with a mix, but here it’s the intriguing end result. One of the album’s singles, “The Wilhelm Scream,” is as lovely as it is eldritch. The catchy melody is surrounded by music that is both minimal and ambient. Blake is capable of all sorts of odd moves: on “I Never Learnt to Share,” a beat doesn’t kick in until the cut is more than half over. One of the album’s highlights is a cover of the Canadian songwriter Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” which consists of his naked voice, piano, and a haunted atmosphere.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The British electronic pop artist James Blake was showered with attention and nominations in his native land in 2010 and 2011. That’s striking because Blake’s music is truly strange. Drawing on the weirder side of R&B as well as leftfield English dance music, the singer/songwriter crafts spare and spooky gems. On “Unluck,” simple electric piano (evocative of ‘70s Sly & The Family Stone), itchy rhythmic tics, and sound blurts serve as a backdrop as Blake sings, at times through a vocoder. The track sounds like something you would hear while a producer was tinkering with a mix, but here it’s the intriguing end result. One of the album’s singles, “The Wilhelm Scream,” is as lovely as it is eldritch. The catchy melody is surrounded by music that is both minimal and ambient. Blake is capable of all sorts of odd moves: on “I Never Learnt to Share,” a beat doesn’t kick in until the cut is more than half over. One of the album’s highlights is a cover of the Canadian songwriter Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” which consists of his naked voice, piano, and a haunted atmosphere.

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4:37
4:51
2:42
3:01
4:36
1:56
3:52
1:35
3:31
4:19
2:42

About James Blake

Influenced by the likes of D'Angelo and Stevie Wonder along with Burial and Mount Kimbie, London-based producer, singer, and songwriter James Blake first gave the world a taste of his quirky, R&B-sampling strain of dubstep in 2009 when his Air & Lack Thereof 12" appeared on the Hemlock label. Blake received quite the endorsement when the heralded Soul Jazz label picked the track up for their Steppas' Delight 2 compilation that same year. Blake raised his profile every few months during 2010 -- something of a breakout year for him -- with a succession of warmly received 12" releases: The Bells Sketch (Hessle Audio, March), CMYK (R&S, June), Klavierwerke (R&S, October), and the single-sided "Limit to Your Love" (Atlas, November). The last of the series -- a cover of a song by Feist, in which Blake's heartfelt vocal was placed front and center -- served as a precursor to his first full-length, issued the following February. Titled James Blake, it left a major impression, and was eventually nominated for a Mercury Prize but lost to PJ Harvey's Let England Shake.

Blake returned to Hemlock for the Order 12", then reverted to Atlas for Enough Thunder, a six-track EP with a Bon Iver collaboration and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." Yet another 12", Love Happened Here, was out by the end of 2011. Blake spent much of 2012 working on his second album, releasing new work under the name Harmonimix, and performing less often as the new songs percolated. In April 2013, second album Overgrown appeared, featuring collaborations with Brian Eno and RZA. It won that year's Mercury Prize, and Blake's songwriting was acknowledged when "Retrograde," one of the album's highlights, won an Ivor Novello Award in the category of Best Contemporary Song. Little, apart from an Airhead collaboration and an EP on his 1-800 Dinosaur label, was heard from Blake for three years. He resurfaced in April 2016 with contributions to Beyoncé's Lemonade. A couple weeks later, The Colour in Anything, his third album, arrived with only a few hours of advance notice. Recorded in England and at Rick Rubin's studio in Malibu, California, it included input from Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Enfield, London, England
  • BORN
    Sep 25, 1988

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