These days electronic Wunderkind JAMES BLAKE releases his long awaited second album. Besides the hype around his person and besides a typical music magazine like pigeonholing, JAMES BLAKE is one of the most exciting musicians of our time, highly innovative and again surprisingly eclectic. Hence Overgrown is a beautiful piece of music with a lot of different aspects, from gospel to UK bass, from traditional hip hop to deep minimal techno moments, but always knitted into pop musical moments.
With his early EPs JAMES BLAKE was celebrated as a reformer of bass music, and alongside acts like MOUNT KIMBIE or SEPALCURE named as a second generation of an earlier dub and dubstep music revival, labeled with genre names like post dubstep. The first and self titled longplayer showed his more song-focussed face, including a highly successful cover version of FEIST‘s Limit To Your Love. This was very probably the moment when most people recognized the young electronic music producer from London, with his deep and complex beats, heavy as lead and this broken voice fragile like porcelain.
His actual release is a development, expectable and logical, but although refreshing. It looks like tracks and sketches became real songs now, also because JAMES BLAKE‘s focus on writing a song maybe has crossed the aim of producing one. This new and matured way of composing added another restructuring and filling element next to the usual brakes, shimmering noises and the typical vocal samples. The opening title track Overgrown is a strong and soulful tune which combines a dub bass with bright strings and a piano, it starts deep and breaks on an epic peak. Followed by I Am Sold, in a similar mood, the album turns a bit more into r’n’b and becomes catchy as hell.
Next to all those different styles and influences, there are also some surprising feature guests. Take A Fall For Me is an exemplary hip hop tune and brings none other than famous Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA, dropping some lines on a fat kick drum and a rattling snare. While Brian Eno shows understatement with producing Digital Lion, which was already released earlier. With Voyeur the sound comes back to Blake’s roots of experimental electronic bass music, but rapidly turns into techno -esque club music with a surprisingly straight four-to-the-floor beat.
On every minute JAMES BLAKE is able to set his personal bunch of absolutely unconventional sounds and song structures into a ten song album conception, Overgrown works slowly song by song as well as a homogenous longplayer. Even he has passed a new level, his second album is an enchanting and well balanced masterpiece. With its pop and r’n’b refenrences, which are always present but never overdone, it is easily connectable, with all its detailed clicks and cuts it is a never ending journey into a delicate and unique microcosm.