So, a little birdy dropped James Blake’s latest LP, Overgrown, in my lap yesterday and it’s been filling my apartment speakers and headphones with its lush sound since it finished downloading. I’ve been waiting for this album to drop since “Retrograde” premiered earlier this year. There was something different about the sound of Overgrown’s first single that felt like a departure from the mellow melancholy but ever sincere Blake we’ve come to love. “Retrograde” took off on some sonic spaceship and refused to return to Earth.
Troves of remixes have surfaced since the single appeared, but Norwegian Finn Pilly (AKA Finnebassen)’s edit shines the brightest. Taking Blake’s space-age-soul laced vocals and looping them over a dark disco beat is one of the best things to happen to Blake’s oeuvre. There’s this sense of something a little sinister looming in this track — as if the world may suddenly erupt in some pastel chaos of light, fireworks, and dust. Pilly keeps us at this edge for the whole nine minutes of the track spinning us around in his hypnotic universe. The sense of desperation in Blake’s delivery is both felt and lost in the production. It plays out like one of those nights where you go out and dance to forget whatever stress has been weighing you down all week; you shake off the anxiety with each pulse of the beat.
We listen to music because it ignites something within us, because we crave some sort of validation for whatever we’re feeling at any given point in time. A track can bring us back down to reality when we need it and it can be our brief escape in the middle of a work day. This track is does both of those things. You can close your eyes, sway with the beat, and escape to some distant make believe world but the come down isn’t harsh nor does it leave you fiending for more like pop music does. It’s a track that resets you, reinvigorates your drive, and frees your thoughts just enough for inspiration to seep in and focus you on the path you know you’re meant to go on; tapping into your potential and tilting it just right so it starts spilling out. You then make-do with it what you want.