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The Kickback: Overgrown

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, April 11, 2013


I like weird music. Weird keeps things interesting. So if you aren’t prepared for some weird, don’t listen to James Blake. 

Blake joins the crew of musicians who have become more famous than their athlete counterparts with the same name (Jack Johnson, Jim Jones). But with the performance he has put on in his past two releases, weird might just become the new normal. 

With his sophomore release “Overgrown,” Blake matures and settles down, while breaking barriers with his introspective lyrics and hypnotizing electronic production. It’s hard to fit Blake into a category, because the London producer covers everything from R&B to low-fi to being unfairly pushed into the sampled dubstep niche. 

But Blake croons, cries and harmonizes with them best of them, sometimes all on one song. Blake’s a one-man band, utilizing samples of his voice and adding electronic drums and high-hats to add to the mystique of his unique sound. 

For example, the best song of the album, “Retrograde,” has only four minor elements: an electronic clap, lyrics, buzzing synths and Blake’s hum which serves as the baseline. It’s a haunting revelation of the self and what’s left of it after losing a significant piece of itself. 

The same goes for the spooky “Take A Fall for Me,” featuring the low-key spoken-word-type rap of Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. Famed producer Brian Eno even hops on a track, “Digital Lion.”

The album’s vibe is certainly mellow, but with a few twists good for a rainy day or just a small treasure in the quest for unique music you won’t hear from anyone else.