Albums of the year: James Blake_ Overgrown

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On the opening and title track of this album. James Blake with Overgrown shows his hand and it’s a winning one.

This whole album focuses on subtlety in its sound design. Most of the tracks are focused and stripped down to their essence which then makes the listener more susceptible to the smallest of changes. A perfect example of which is in Overgrown the track you can hear below. The rolling cymbal sound with underlying string and synth section hit like the finest dance floor drop and on repeat listens have the same effect. The whole track is building to this moment and when it arrives it gives me that hairs on the back of your neck feeling that only great music can do.

As the album progresses this feel of well placed care and attention to the tracks is prevalent throughout. The influences are many with gospel and blues being the highlights but these are then shifted through the ideology of a modern bedroom producer and we’re left with something that manages to look into the past, present and with many modern acts being influenced by James Blake it could be a sign of things to come.

The fact that an album primarily recorded and mixed by one man alone in his bedroom can win the mercury music prize is proof that the music is changing with the times. Technology is the forefront now and great stuff is coming out of the fears that the music “industry” had so prominently in the late 90’s. It may be loosing its hefty business model but if albums like Overgrown are a side effect I hope things continue this way.

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