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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

Electro - Released May 5, 2016 | Polydor Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Little was heard from James Blake throughout an almost three-year period that followed Overgrown, his second straight Top Ten U.K. album. He appeared on an Airhead track and released a 12" on his 1-800-Dinosaur label, yet it wasn't until February 2016, during his BBC Radio 1 program, that listeners got their initial taste of album three. Drawn like a scene from a dissolving relationship that immediately precedes release and relief, "Modern Soul" hinted that the album could be a bit brighter with less of the anguish that permeated the singer/producer's first two albums. Another song, a vaguely aching minimal dub ballad, was aired two months later, possibly chosen because it too had a title, "Timeless," that could potentially wind up detractors. In late April, when it seemed like he might spring on his audience a tune named something like "Proper Music," Blake received a profile boost from Beyoncé, whose Lemonade prominently sported a pair of songs featuring his assistance. A couple weeks later, the long-delayed The Colour in Anything materialized at a length nearly that of his first two albums put together. Recording began in London. Once stalled by creative fatigue, Blake decamped to Rick Rubin's Malibu studio. The sunnier environment had no evident effect on the album's outlook. Regardless of location, Blake continues to deal in fraught romantic trauma, setting the album's tone immediately with "Radio Silence," a mix of mournful gospel and surging synthesizers in which "I can't believe this, you don't wanna see me" is stated something like ten times. As he sifts through the wreckage in puzzled and lucid states, he still stretches and distorts his frail but transfixing choir boy voice. A few lines are expressed with Auto-Tune fillips, some are enhanced through fine layering, and others are left unembellished, sometimes sunk into the mix of basslines that tap and thrum, percussion that gently skitters and scrapes, and synthesizers, applied like coating, that swell and swarm. Most disorienting is "Put That Away and Talk to Me," akin to a malfunctioning lullaby mobile playing a late-'90s Timbaland knockoff. Blake sought some help, not only from Rubin, who co-produced the Malibu sessions, but from Justin Vernon, who assisted with two songs and is heard on "I Need a Forest Fire," while Frank Ocean co-wrote another pair, including the all-voice closer, where Blake solemnly resolves -- ta-da -- that contentment is up to him. Compared to the self-titled debut and Overgrown, this a more graceful and denser purging, one that can soundtrack some intense wallowing or, at a low volume, throb and murmur unobtrusively in the background. ~ Andy Kellman