James Blake - Terminal 5 - 5/7/13

Jason Bergman
James Blake and his band walked briskly out onto stage. Taking his place behind his keyboard and laptop, he led his trio in a chaotic, explosive rendition of one of his first singles, 2009's "Air and Lack Thereof." Swirling blue and green lights swallowed up the band. The skuzzed out bass swallowed up the crowd. Next, he'd slow things down with one of the quiet, insightful singles from his self-titled debut album, "I Never Learnt to Share." He sported a black jacket with a black t-shirt and stood at his keyboard. Immediately following that, the band jumped back into the beat-driven world with "CMYK," the booming house single that first helped the British musician catch buzz in the United States only a few years ago. Three bat signal-like lights watched from behind the stage, shifting and changing with each pulse. And after that? Well, he busted out "Limit To Your Love," another reflective, soft single from his debut record.

In other words, James Blake's show is unpredictable.

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Crumpet-Baking Englishman James Blake Loves Jeremih's New Mixtape, Collabing with RZA

Categories: James Blake

For James Blake, the differences between his self-titled 2011 debut and its hotly anticipated follow-up, Overgrown, boil down to a pretty simple fact: He had no idea he was writing his way toward a record the first time around, and this time he did. "We came to about 10 songs and I thought, 'Oh, wow! I've got a record!' You know?" he laughs, making crumpets (seriously) in his apartment in London.

After Blake's eponymous debut came out, "The Wilhelm Scream" made its way into the playlists of anyone who wasn't allergic to electronic music and his equal parts crooner-cum-electronic producer (or was it the other way around?) output saw the highest points of the European charts (though James Blake topped out with a 123 rank stateside.) A Mercury Prize nomination, more best-of list mentions than one can count, and a handful of international tours later, Blake is set for the release of Ovegrown, and he's eager to put out what he considers to be his most self-representative work yet.

See also: Hear James Blake's New Album Before All Your Friends at Listening Parties Throughout the Week

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Live: James Blake Plays It Close To The Vest At Webster Hall

James Blake
Webster Hall
Wednesday, July 13

Better than: Hundreds of people crying about their exes, alone, in their bedrooms.

It took a handful of songs at last night's James Blake show for the audience to get used to the musician's intensely reserved demeanor. The man barely looked up from his keyboard, hovering in silence for a few seconds at the end of each track. While this resulted in a few heavy silences sweeping through Webster Hall, they were broken with waves of applause as soon as Blake sheepishly mumbled "Thank you" to signal the end of a piece. It was a tension-filled evening but that was to be expected: James Blake has always been about getting the listener to try and figure him out.

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