Monday, 30 May 2016

Review: James Blake - The Colour in Anything

James Blake’s third album, The Colour in Anything is a hypnotic blend of his signature electronic pop and haunting vocals, and other musical influences. Weaved through the 17 tracks are strands of minimalist piano motifs, soul, R&B, dance, gospel and episodes of a cappella.

The Colour in Anything begins with with a series of echoing vocals, before the R&B-like beat of Radio Silence kicks in and Blake’s repetitive lyrics establish the entrancing nature of the album. Whilst Blake’s songs have that unbreakably mesmerising quality, a lot of the songs on this album are simultaneously chaotic, with overlapping loops building up layer by layer.

There is only one point in which Blake is completely stripped back; f.o.r.e.v.e.r. almost feels like an interlude, a complete moment of self-reflection, where Blake’s delicate vocals float over the top of the most basic of piano chords. The title song of the album is then reminiscent of this later on, but with the added weight of layered vocal harmony.

Blake’s vocals have a fragile edge throughout, portraying fragmented pain through his intensely troubled songs. And Blake’s music is undoubtedly a discourse of pain and internal struggle. Whereas the majority of music we come across tells a story or raises an issue in a conventionally narrative way, Blake’s songs seem to capture a fraction of emotion and submerge the listener into the very depths of this feeling. To listen to The Colour in Anything in its entirety is to get lost in some dream-like place, or to see your surroundings through distorted vision.

In spite of the continual electronic presence and heightened use of repetition and loops, Blake’s album offers a lot of colour, though perhaps not in the usual sense of light and shade. Instead, his melancholic hues leak slowly into one another, creating a hazy mass of undefined colour.

The Colour in Anything is a stunning album, full of complexities that broaden on each listen. Even in a music market inundated with electronic pop and drifting falsettos, Blake's voice is still unmistakably his own.

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