James Blake’s early EP’s like Klavierwerke and CMYK where solid instrumental builders, focused more around hooks than what dub-step normally offered. They were still rooted in abstraction, experimenting with electronic ambience and sliced vocals, but for every release he moved further and further into more accessible territory. By the time his self-titled debut arrived it stood clear that Blake stepped well outside the genre that introduced him, probably a bit too far for dub-step purist to fully embrace it. The album was composed of tender soulful, almost gospel-like songs and presented Blake as not only a skilled electronic producer, but as a highly accomplished singer and song-writer. His 2011 collaboration with Bon Iver was hardly surprising; “Lindisfame II” had already shown Blake’s ability to create For Emma, Forever Ago-like soulful folk.
When he earlier this year announced a collaboration with Brian Eno, it didn’t raise much eyebrow’s since this is essentially what we might expect of Blake these days (however, I’m not sure that Eno’s influence on “Digital Lion” is in fact noticeable). Upon back-to-back listening to “Retrograde” and “Digital Lion”, there is a clearer understanding of where Blake’s is likely to take his up-coming record. For instance, the hymn-like refrain present on both tracks is a wonderful new addition to his repertoire that further enhances the folky blues aesthetics of his creations. “Digital Lion” is a bit more complex than “Retrograde”, melting Blake’s more accessible side with his experimental electronic ambitions.
02. I Am Sold
03. Life Around Here
04. Take A Fall For Me feat. RZA
07. Digital Lion feat. Brian Eno
09. To The last
10. Our Love Comes Back
- James Blake – Retrograde (ifoundmusic.com)
- James Blake streams a new track with Brian Eno, ‘Digital Lion’ (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- New! James Blake / Digital Lion (sheblogsaboutmusic.wordpress.com)
- Stream: James Blake, “Voyeur (Dub)” (thefader.com)
- James Blake – Digital Lion (dajaz1.com)
- Brian Eno, RZA Guest on New James Blake Album (pitchfork.com)