James Blake – Retrograde – Tune Of The Week

James Blake is back. After releasing his debut album filled with electro-baby-making-music, Retrograde is the first single to the follow up album entitled “Overgrown” which is a lock for this edition of Tune Of The Week

James Blake Retrograde

Retrograde feels a lot more solid that efforts from the previous record. It still maintains the the mournful, soulful electronic sound that is James Blake, but this time it feels more centered. More defined and less experimental, but without a losing a sense of originality.

The dense, drowning synths smother Blake’s vocal in a warmth that emphasises the isolation transmitted through the vocals. “We’re alone now””

When the synths drop out, leaving the hypnotic piano to keep Blake’s wails company by itself, I could feel the sense of loss he’s putting forward. A class record.

James Blake Retrograde Video

James Blake Overgrown

My Top Ten Songs From 2012

2012 was another good year for music, well for me anyway. When I look back at my LastFM history and see all of the new music I’ve been listening to, it’s definitely been more positive than negative (the Seoul brother’s Broken Condom Style being an example of the negative).

Here are ten of the tracks that I loved most during 2012. They weren’t already strictly released in 2012, but this is my 2012 top because this is the year I came to enjoy them most.

10. Watch The Throne – No Church In The Wild ft Frank Ocean

The filtered down, driving production on this new era anthem kicked ‘Watch The Throne’ in to high gear, and also showcased Frank Ocean’s effortless vocal ability. The street riot video is also a scary prospect, if not a premonition.

What’s a God to a non believer, who don’t believe in anything?

9. Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox)

2012 was the year the Dubstep bubble burst and went Pop, and I for one blame (?) Skrillex.

Call 911!

8. Alex Clare – Too Close

Alex Clare’s Too Close stands out as the next wave of genre bending. The Diplo produced banger fuses elements of classic soul-pop vocals, reggae tinged drumming and dub step wobble bass programming. The infusion of all these elements gave me one of this year’s most repeated tracks. Also, any music video with Samurai is worth a watch.

And it feels like I am just too close to love you

7. Bonobo – Eyes Down ft Andreya Triana

Bonobo’s “Eyes Down” is probably the track on this skewed by the most bias. That bias comes in the way of having heard Bonobo drop it live at a festival in Costa Rica. Big (big) cruising bass lines drift below Andreya Triana’s smooth jazz inspired voice.

Hands Up, but my eyes facing down

6. Frank Ocean – Thinking About You

In a year where the charts were filled with saccharine, vacuous music, Frank Ocean’s laid back love song was a true revelation, with the combination of the sparse production, exceptionally interesting timing and a supremely smooth falsetto. This is pop music at it’s finest.

Since you think I don’t love you, I just thought you were cute, that’s why I kissed you

5. Childish Gambino – Bonfire

Community’s Donald Glover goes on the rampage in the form of his alter ego Childish Gambino. His record ‘Camp’ is laced with some of the cleverest one liners I’ve heard on a rap album recently, even if they don’t have much of a shelf life they’re a helluva lot of fun.

Cos I’m a beat bitch, grrr – Invader Zim

You can kiss my ass, human centipede

Black and White Music? Now nigga that’s a mix tape!

Made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony

4.The Knife – Silent Shout

As a long time fan of Kraftwerk and a recent fan of Booka Shade, M.A.N.D.Y and the like, this driving, late night dance track had me hooked from the first listen. The creepy, effected vocal performance from the brother and sister combo that make up the Knife sail over synth patterns that are complex enough to keep me curious by not overly so, and a bass line that grooves along, oblivious to the rest of the elements in the track.

A cracked smile and a silent shout

3. James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

Most people who listened to this track for the first time told me that they didn’t get it – there’s not much going on. That, to me is best part of it. Spacious, emotional and poignant. James Blake communicates his sense of hopelessness with so little effort and so much space, that I feel I’m being such in to the spaces in the music, until the unconventional anti crescendo at the tail end of the track shove me back out.

All that I know is that I’m falling, falling, falling. Might as well fall

2. The Weeknd – XO/ The Host

The drama, grit and downright bloody scary things that this album contains had it on repeat for most of this year. XO/ The Host is depraved, shallow and striking, made all the more so because I don’t know whether or not to believe that the lyrics are merely fabrications or true stories.

I got a brand new cam, we can POV

1. Alex Clare – Relax My Beloved

I am exceptionally fond of music that can be at once dense and sparse, simple yet intricate. The string, drum, and programming on this release each satisfy in their own respect. Wild, raging synthesizers atop a dead straight kick/snare line interrupted by Alex Clare’s distorted, pained vocals. My only gripe is that the song is too short, I could have gone in for a 6 or 7 minute journey, and would have loved to have more time to explore what else could be found.

Don’t turn your back on me, or shout as you walk out the door…

The Wilhelm Scream – James Blake 8/10

I’m not entirely sure what it is about this song that I love so much.  Is the sublime texture of the instruments? The chilled out vibe it puts out or James Blake’s phenomenal, melancholic voice. This is a slow jam for the electro kids. The Wilhelm Scream is slow and sexy baby making music for the sine wave set.

I don’t know about my friends, all that I know is that I’m falling for this track.

Song Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆