INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut MAY 2013 - by Piers Martin
JAMES BLAKE: OVERGROWN
Cyber-soul star's audacious second; Eno and RZA cameo
James Blake's self-titled debut has to be one of the weirdest albums in recent memory to sell half a million copies. Its follow-up Overgrown is equally unorthodox, but by now we're accustomed to the twenty-four-year-old Londoner's intoxicating technique, while he too has advanced in every regard and has the calibre to secure turns by Brian Eno and RZA, whose rap on Take A Fall For Me mentions "fish and chips". Always confident in his ability, here he conjures sublime moments with Retrograde and Digital Lion before violating each with curdled klaxons, his voice throughout pitched persuasively somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Jeff Buckley.
James Blake's impressive electronic connections
James Blake is the first to admit his 2011 Top 10 debut was a strange affair. "For what is essentially this ethereal collage of oddities, it did sell a lot," the singer-songwriter says from his south-east London home. "On this new album I'm giving people a wider range of the things l do."
Hyped as a precocious soul visionary at twenty-two, Blake's swift transition from dubstep maverick to international star without compromising his sound justified the acclaim. As a mark of his influence, he unwittingly founded a genre of ennui-laden urban blues. "If you can gure out how to personalise any avenue you go down then that's a comfortable position to be in," he says. "I've had a good ride in that respect because people have let me do it."
Off-beat collaborations with Bon Iver (on Fall Creek Boys Choir) and, for dynamic second LP Overgrown, Brian Eno and Wu-Tang chief RZA suggest Blake is having more fun than his public image lets on. "Brian I worked with because I needed someone to chat to about the album. I didn't meet RZA. I emailed him. He responded quickly and did his rap with such aplomb."
At the moment, Blake is keeping things closer to home. "I'm producing my uncle's folk band," he says. "He's got a lovely voice."