Since 2009, he’s been producing tracks that syndicate nightclubs and candle lit dinners into one rhythm. He creates a soulful electronic backdrop that screams both sex and mystery with his gospel vocals, and a deep bassline. Who is James Blake and where has he been for the rise of this city’s electronic explorations? The 25-year-old music producer from London came into the spotlight with his first full-length album Air & Lack Thereof in 2009. It’s been uphill from there. Son of English singer and guitarist James Litherland; he studied popular music at Goldsmiths, University of London; AND he’s recently gone on to win London’s 2013 Mercury Prize for the best album in the UK and Ireland.
With classical scales played on piano, and those soft, passionate cries from Blake himself, he produces the utmost irresistible mix of melody (AND lack thereof). The absence of music makes you realize just how badly you need it, when the beat finally drops.
His breakthrough hit Limit to Your Love is a shining example of the effect that silence can have on the rest of the song. His effortless vocals with each drawn out chord leave you breathless. James Blake released Limit to Your Love, an original track by Feist, as a single in 2010. The release marked the first time he used his voice, and gave special attention to it in his music.
Well, thank god for that! The rest is history; Beautiful sultry-jazz vibes for the 21st century. What more do you need? Even with the self-discovery of his vocal capabilities, James continues to reach new heights mastering the production side of things. His most recent album, Overgrown, transforms R & B and gospel styles. He maintains that mellow seduction with his vocals, while new rhythms alter the overall attitude of the album. It’s still beautiful, just a little bit creepier. There is an eerie undertone to each beat; a renewed sense of mystery and power in songs like “Retrograde.” What starts out soft, progresses into alarming pulsations. Cries of “Suddenly I’m hit!” and “We’re alone now,” can be heard over the overwhelming baseline.
James Blake sometimes goes by Harmonimix, a stage name for his remixed work. Not sure how often he’ll be using his alias anymore. Some of his original products are beginning to compare to the likes of D’Angelo and Burial, the influences that inspired him to produce in the first place.
The past few years have done this new star good, as he’s compiled hits with an array of artists. From the alt-folk heartbreaker Bon Iver to Chance the Rapper and The Wu-Tang Clan’s Chief Producer RZA, Blake works across the board for his soothing sounds.
Curious what these melodic beats and soothing vocals sounds like live? James Blake will be playing Wednesday November 20 at the Showbox at the Market. Doors open at 7 pm. Once Blake hits the stage, I guarantee he won’t disappoint.
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