By Kevin Gitau
I probably bumped into James Blake’s music two years ago after realizing that he was Kanye’s favorite (I am a Kanye fanatic – so anything he likes, I like). So, I took time to listen to his album ‘James Blake,’ which I found particularly very calming, but it was a bit too deep for me at that time – when Schoolboy Q’s ‘Oxymoron’ was popping and we all couldn’t get enough of J. Coles’ ‘Forest Hills Drive.’
But even with all these “commercial” albums doing numbers and topping billboards, Blake left a lasting attachment with me, so once in a while, I would find myself ravaging through his YouTube channel to try and find something new.
Fast forward to a year ago when I had a chance to listen to ‘Overgrown’ – a year older and a year wiser, I could relate to his music and understand him more; and I dug his “weird.”
That background aside, I’ve had a chance to listen to his album ‘The Colour in Anything,’ which dropped on the 7th of May, 2016. It’s nothing short of what should be expected from Blake as a fan and also as someone who appreciates music.
The difference with ‘The Colour in Anything’ however is that the listener gets a lot of deep vibes from Blake and the aesthetics of his musicality let’s you travel through this very dark terrain tunnel. ‘The Colour in Anything’ is happy and it feels lighter – almost feels like he’s in a happy place. He’s more experimental and the sound modulates into different zones.
In “Choose me” Blake drifts from the very glorious and airy zones, and drives directly to a well orchestrated ragga vibe with rather muffled and muddy kicks. The synths also are not as heavily used in this as in “Overgrown,” which sounds less electronic. If I had known less, I would’ve thought this album was executively produced by Kanye from the way Blake incorporated the use of autotone, which one would be tempted to say he doesn’t need, but Blake carefully uses them in specific areas to create moments in his pieces.
There are moments Blake let’s you travel with his harmonies that sit so heavenly in the background and for a second make you feel like you are listening to the audio version of Lion King. The production is nothing short of what to expect from Blake, his vocals lay well reverbed on a cloud and the space he lets you in, gives you a chance to sit with him and see the world from his view. Blake’s musicality feels broader with less electro-folky sound especially when he sneaks in a few trappy and rythym and blues moments.
Blake’s lyrics, well you judge from this excerpt: “I’ll find no peace till I know you, till I wish you well-till I know the enemy, I’ll find no peace till I hold my light-knowing you is right, and your love is everything I need.”
The last song from the 17 track EP ‘Meet You in the Maze,’ has acapella with autotune variables and feels like it’s been cut right out of Kanye’s ‘808’s and Heartbreak’ album. In ‘I need a forest fire’ that features singer Bon Iver, the two artists give you a nostalgic lift-off with a well-lit snare and sort of reminds you of those RnB days but Electro-fied.
My favorite piece “Choose me” (clearly from the excerpt), sounds very generic but needless to mention that this album holds more than enough Choir-lay overs that get you not only eebe jeebied, but also will usher you into a new realm.
Knowing Blake as a clear introvert from his music – with this latest album ‘The Colour in Anything,’ you can tell that he has stepped out of his element and comfort zone to deliver what he has.
Give it a listen.