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Dance - Released January 1, 2011 | Polydor Records

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks - 3 étoiles Technikart - Sélection du Mercury Prize
During 2009 and 2010, James Blake issued a clutch of abstract dubstep singles on Hemlock, Hessle Audio, and R&S. Each release increased anticipation for the producer’s next move as he continually shuffled the deck on his bristly, off-center, and generally groove-less tracks, some of which incorporated vocals -- he sampled Kelis and Aaliyah on “CMYK,” for instance -- or his own voice, heavily processed. The Klavierwerke EP, the last in the series, was the most stripped down of the bunch. The day after it was released, Blake uploaded a video for his dramatic cover version of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” which indicated that the focus on his voice and sparse backing would continue. Consisting of Blake's pensive vocal, a simple but affecting piano, and recurring beat weighed down by sub-bass, it’s one of the most straightforward tracks on Blake’s brief debut album. The following “Give Me My Month” deviates most from Blake’s vinyl output; it’s a wistful piano-and-voice ballad that has far more in common with Procol Harum than any given contemporary linked to Blake. The rest of the tracks are more like exercises in sound manipulation and reduction than songs. The approach is no fault, but Blake pares it down to such an extent that the material occasionally sounds not just tentative but feeble, fatigued, even, as on “I Never Learnt to Share,” where one creaky line is repeated and treated throughout, placed over swelling synthesizer frequencies and a stamping beat. “The Wilhelm Scream,” one of the album’s highlights, is far more effective, a ballad with a pulse that increases in intensity with skillfully deployed reverb and surging waves of soft noise. ~ Andy Kellman

Dance - Released January 1, 2011 | Polydor Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music

Electro - Released May 6, 2016 | Polydor Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music

Electro - Released January 1, 2013 | Polydor Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
With his 2011 debut full-length, dubstep-via-fractured R&B producer James Blake delivered on the promise of his earlier singles while at the same time overhauling his sound, moving away somewhat from the sample-heavy dubstep of those tracks to a sparser atmosphere. The album focused more on Blake's equally haunted piano and vocal lines, submerged elements of implied rhythms, dubstep's subsonic bass resonance, and ghostly samples to create a picture of restraint and contained emotional upheaval. The album felt not so much like the calm before the storm, but like silently watching a hurricane slowly and soundlessly move closer from the distance. Sophomore album Overgrown offers a similar feeling, but Blake approaches the songs here with even more restraint and a subtly deconstructed take on pop. Subtlety is perhaps Blake's greatest attribute on Overgrown, with what could even be the album's heaviest moments blurring into a pleasantly melancholy whole through deft production choices. Take for instance "Take a Fall for Me," a partially rhythm-less track featuring Wu-Tang's RZA in an extended set of rhymes over a looping sample of static and processed backing vocals, and samples that recall Tricky's earliest work. The jagged edges of a track like this could render it awkward with more obvious production, but Blake's touch pushes even RZA's toughest verses into a rainy, lamenting place. The skeletal piano of the debut returns on tracks like "DLM" or the gorgeous album-closer "Our Love Comes Back," which has the faintest hints of Chet Baker's springtime loneliness buried in Blake's mumbling blue-eyed R&B vocals. Brian Eno even shows up to collaborate on the sputtering rhythms of "Digital Lion," perhaps the most hyperactive track here, though only in relative terms. Somewhere between the vacant echoes of dub and trip-hop, dubstep's sample-slicing production, and the contained heartbreak of a singer/songwriter playing piano to himself in an empty room, Blake has crafted Overgrown. It's understated to the point of invisibility at times, with Blake subtracting even himself from the songs, allowing the lead vocals or hooks to be consumed by the song at large. Though the stormy textures and somber reflections are pretty specific to a particular mood, Overgrown finds and fits that mood perfectly. While it might take listeners a few spins to find the right head space for the album, once they get there, it's an easy place to get lost in. ~ Fred Thomas

Electro - Released January 18, 2019 | Polydor Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
James Blake has come a long way! Things have changed a lot since the beginning of the decade when he was playing around with post-dubstep beats. Although he’s now one of the most popular producers of mainstream music (having worked with Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak), the sound of James Blake is still unmistakeable both for the magnificent melancholy of each one of his songs and his ability to express emotion through music. This new album is certainly no exception. It starts off simply with piano arabesques and the vocals from the title track and then come two tracks with Metro Boomin, the most highly rated producer of US hip-hop who is also a songwriter and DJ. Travis Scott on the mic is a hit on Mile High, while Moses Sumney proves why there’s so much hype around his name on Tell Them, which is proof of the saying less is more. Another great track is Barefoot in the Park featuring the Catalan Rosalía, the singer and songwriter behind the hit Malamente. Her vocals are as delicate as ever as she sings in unison with Blake for this lovely chorus with the faint sound of velvety-smooth piano chords playing in the back. But the real highlight of the album is the feature with Andre 3000 from Outkast who bursts in with all guns blazing on Where’s the Catch?, a track with instrumentals that are both heavy and delicate at the same time, a musical oxymoron that only James Blake would be capable of. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz