James Blake’s solo career seems to be at a crossroads. His last album The Colour in Anything was a deep dive into the maximalist breakup music he had been focusing on since Overgrown, but his most recent single, “If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead,” was a return to some of the more colorful, club-focused music of his past. There have been at least two James Blakes at play, it seems: The one who loves to party and the one who likes nothing better than getting under the covers of his weighted blanket. If “Don’t Miss It” is any indication of what future lays ahead for Blake, it may not be found on the dancefloor.
Made in collaboration with Mount Kimbie’s Dom Maker, “Don’t Miss It,” is another beautifully brutal song to add to Blake’s large catalog of sumptuous sad boy music. The production is relatively simple—just a spare, sour piano line and choral backing hums. The song’s complexity, for better or worse, comes from how Blake plays with his voice. His experimentations in tone are novel but can be grating. His delivery turns nasally and then bassy and then is processed into a glitchy robotic droll. In that cyborg lilt, a line like “I could avoid going outside,” can really tug at the heartstrings. And while it’s hard to deny the prettiness of Blake’s music, the mopeyness of it all is starting to feel cloistered. Maybe he needs a night out.
Leon Vynehall recently announced that he will be releasing a new album called Nothing Is Still on June 15th, and with it he released ‘Envelopes (Chapter VII)’. This took many off guard, as it did not comprise the normal floor-filling tech-house beats that Leon has made his name on, but rather was a slow and grandiose mood piece, certainly captivating, but suggesting that it was part of a larger whole. It is today followed up by the new track ‘Movements (Chapter III)’, which follows suit in many ways.
Leon Vynehall has made his name on putting out body music, with plenty for the head to chew on too, but with these new tracks he’s going straight for the head – and the heart. ‘Movements (Chapter III)’ begins with a short sample, putting us in situ in a night time metropolis still flickering with activity. Vynehall then floats us down the street on spacey percussion, more akin to a fizz than a knock, and a sashaying reverberated gauziness. This sets the scene for beautifully serene jazz to take over as we duck into a hole-in-the-wall club, with saxophones intertwining and rising to a freer space, where they can noodle along with the piano in joyful listlessness.
The inspiration for Nothing Is Still is Vynehall’s grandparents’ moving to New York in the 1960s. Pairing that idea with the stunning urban collage Vynehall has created in ‘Movements (Chapter III)’, you can feel the intoxication of the new world they must have felt at that time. It’s another enticing cut from the album that is drawing us into the bigger picture, and we’ll soon get to hear and see in its entirety.
Jazz maestro Kamasi Washington will release his new double album, Heaven and Earth, in just under one month’s time. After previewing the 16-track collection with the songs “Fists of Fury” and “The Space Travelers Lullaby”, he’s back today with another taste of Heaven entitled, “Street Fighter Mas”.
And yes, that’s a reference to the classic fighting video game. According to a statement, a young Washington used to go to the Rexall arcade in his neighborhood and do battle with the local OGs on Street Fighter. “It was the one place that was like an equalizer. It was just about how good you were at Street Fighter… for the most part,” Washington said. “In other places, you were afraid of these dudes; there, you would just play the game and it was what it was, you know?” He continued,
“In a lot of ways, for me, video games was the way I connected with them because I was never affiliated with any gangs, but I knew them and I was cool with them and that was mainly through the video games. At an older age I thought how amazing would it be if the OGs could just play the game and solve their problems that way. The meaning within the scope of the record is a connection to the past and all of the many ways we can connect.”
When Saints Go Machine – ArrowThroughSkinOutOfBlueSky (Ft. Killer Mike)
Danish electro sorcerers When Saints Go Machine have revealed “ArrowThroughSkinOutOfBlueSky”, a new number featuring Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike. The track follows last month’s “ZeroFrame”, which marked the end of a five-year absence and served as the first track from WSGM’s upcoming It’s A Mad Love EP.
“This is a band I love as a fan and respect as an artist and hope we collab the rest of our careers as each one seems to get better. We sound grand together,” says Killer Mike of the collaboration.
“After doing ‘Love And Respect’ for [2013 album] Infinity Pool with Mike, we actually recorded more stuff together; we just never finished any before taking a break from WSGM,” adds the band’s vocalist Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild. “We had also been meeting every time we had the chance, so it just seemed like a natural thing to do a proper track when we decided to do the EP.”
Earlier this year, the Brooklyn-based band Barrie released their first-ever song, “Canyons,” a promising piece of synth-pop. They’re following that up today with a new single, “Tal Uno,” that keeps the dreamy atmosphere but adds a little bit more spark to the mix. Atop washed-out synths and aerated melodies, band leader Barrie Lindsay confronts an ex like a ghost, apparitions of them recurring throughout their life that you do your best to ignore.
“You’re semi-precious and kind of reckless/ I think you’re better on your own/ I got your message, I left my necklace, I got the picture on my phone,” she sings. “Don’t you think that you can do better?” Lindsay asks in the chorus, both of herself and the other person.