James Blake | Assume Form

 
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Family Average: 6/7

Wake up my Blake Boys! It is album review season. Much different from duck season and especially different from rabbit season. In this season we cut loose, throw on tunes, and then talk about how we feel. Believe me there are a lot of things to be felt as we dive head first into this emotional rollercoaster of an album. Everyone allow me to introduce James Blake’s Assume Form

Look below and see what the family had to say.

 
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I knew James Blake as a melancholic, beautiful deep voice with piano that matched, yet, that description does him no justice after listening to this album. He went beyond, expanded, pushed right out of his genre and bent it. He's not just voice and piano, we’ve got production and arrangement that is full and diverse. There’s electro, there’s R&B, there’s Travis Scott and Andre 3000. On this album, he finds the right place to put his voice and the right noises to put around it. Each and every song, there’s no exception, they are all straight beauty. Diversity, the production, you never know what you’re gonna get.

I like his weaving into the rap game. He fits himself in there maintaining his style and essence. I have liked his voice paired with rappers such as Chance the Rapper in the remix to “Life Round Here,” but I didn’t know it could go much further.

The Travis Scott feature on “Mile High” is just simply so good. Its melancholic, mellow, Travis Scott, puts you in a trance, and he’s got Metro Boomin on the production, very cool.  

I wasn’t familiar with Moses Sumney but wow his voice on “Tell Them” is too good, like Macy Gray kinda, and paired and James Blake’s deeper voice works well with it.

“Barefoot in the Park” is stunning. Beautiful sounds, like Alice in Wonderland sounds, and Rosalía singing in Spanish, and if I’m not mistaken, James Blake does too a bit. I love, “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow” it flows for sure. The noises in the beginning are heavenly, angelic, the polyphony.

“Where’s the Catch,” Andre 3000, yes. The beat with that classic Andre 3000 flow and tone aah this is really good.“I’ll Come Too” uses a heavenly sample that was also used in a beattape I used to study to, but they didn’t use it like he did.

James Blake himself makes beautiful music but this is a project, a collaboration, he pushed and redefined his music, not allowing himself to be categorized so easily. He’s pushing the boundaries and setting himself apart from other artists who I would have associated him with based on what I’ve heard from him in the past.

He went to work on this album. I wrote a poem while I was listening.

7/7

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I never heard of James Blake! At first when everyone was talking about it I thought James Blunt had made a comeback...turns out I was just confusing the names. In reality James Blake is about 800 miles different than James Blunt. Woops!

Assume Form is without a doubt a headphones kind of album. An up close and personal kind of album. Something that you’d want real close to your ear drums. Lyrics that make you want to feel like you’re the only one who can hear them, wherever you are. A mixture of unique harmonies, beats,  and collaborations, the album becomes a tightrope walk between a myriad of genres. It all felt rather intimate and spooky not scary.  

My favorites I think would have to be “Into the Red”, “Barefoot in the Park”, “Where’s the Catch” (but only because I miss Andre 3000 haha), and “I’ll Come Too” spoke to me in some kind of way “I'll go under your wing//I'll slot right in between the//Cracks between you and him//I don't wanna go home//Shall we drive from zone to zone?” — I recognize it’s not the most profound of his lyrics but sometimes a string of words just hits you like fuuuuck.  

I won’t stay up too James Blake, I’m practically falling asleep at 8 pm! But I will say I’m happy to have heard the album.

Sidenote: I was hearing everyone say “he’s so sad” but I mean….just go listen to Conor Oberst. THAT’S a sad man right there. 

6/7

 
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Assume Form by James Blake was an extremely unique and enjoyable album.  My first impression was that he is a bit of a sad soul, however the longer you spend listening to the lyrics you realize he is also hopeful. He is definitely a talented singer/songwriter. I believe on this album he was smart to collaborate with other artists and show yet another dimension to himself.  I am sure this was no easy task to accomplish, blending various styles and artists with his own. The end result, however was well worth his effort. The song “Where’s the Catch” with Andre 3000, was my favorite of the joint works. I loved the dreamy melancholy of Blake mixed with the familiar sound of Andre 3000.

 The production and arrangement on this album is also well worth noting. His musical talent beyond that of singer/songwriter are so apparent, especially on the first and last tracks.  “Assume Form” , the first and title track with it’s magical piano matched beautifully with his unique vocals set the stage and leaving wanting the hear what else he has to offer.

Finally, like a good book, he gives the album a well thought out and striking ending.  “Lullaby for My Insomniac” covers you up like a warm blanket on a cold night and leaves you completely at peace.  One of the things I like about doing these reviews is that I get exposed to new artists I might not normally listen too.  I am also looking for songs to put on various yoga playlists. I am sure my yogis will appreciate doing some sun salutations while enjoying this album.

5/7

 
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Don’t break my heart, my achy Blakey Heart! Hey there James how the heck are you? Not great from what I can discern from your many, many sad lyrics. Still this is a spectacular album. Oh, James Blake how you tap dance on my heart. James Blake take all my tears away.

Full disclosure I had not been the biggest Blake Face. The last time I heard the artist was the release of their 2011 self titled album. I was a little put off by the excessive electronic bass-y techno vibe it had going on.

With that in mind I was a little hesitant to jump into this release. Low and behold I was completely won over. It has quickly worked its way into my heavy rotation at work, walking home from work, and doing more work at my home. I would say the diverse array of featured artists on this album greatly adds to it’s replay-ability. Of all the artists featured the favorite of mine would have to be Andre 3000. As always winning me over with that bombastic energy that landed the fella a show on cartoon network. Remember when that happened?

As stated before, this album has got some sad stuff in it. Fair warning. If you are  going into this album with something in the back of your mind to cry about. It will be dredged up to the surface, and then you will cry.

Thanks a lot Blake, ya creep.

5/7

 
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Full disclosure: I picked this album to be reviewed because I love it and it makes my heart hurt in the best way.

James Blake is perhaps known as one of the saddest sad boy musicians of the day. His past work has been an interesting mix of melodic, electronic tracks that drip with heavy percussion and lyrics. In  Assume Form, Blake maintains his introspective, hard-hitting lyrics, but the songs skew more romantic and hopeful. An album about falling in love, the inherent anxieties, and being so mind-boggled that a thing like that could exist that he made an album equally mind-boggling in its complexity.

A patchwork of gorgeous melodies, wobbly chords, and his penchant for percussion, it’s steeped in some sonic sort of acid that makes it all drippy and gooey and messy but somehow polished. With his naturally melancholy vocals, the episodic and cinematic songs become even heavier. It's an emotional powerhouse that feels bleak and light at the same time. The lyrics destroyed me. Give "Lullaby for My Insomniac" a good listen. You'll see.

7/7 (I TOLD YOU.)

 
Sean Maldjian