James Blake - Before EP

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James Blake returns to the club-oriented style of his earlier days as a DJ with his new EP Before. In the intervening years, balladry has overtaken knob-twiddling as his primary concern. On this release both nuances can exist in harmony, even on the same song, and the end product sounds like something approaching a final form for Blake.

A lot of the music here harks back to the producer’s earliest releases. The opener ‘I Keep Calling’ features signature pitched-up and manipulated vocals reminiscent of 2010 single ‘CMYK’. While ‘CMYK’ was defined by its icy, distant textures, ‘I Keep Calling’ closes with a warm wave of synths that edge the track into anthemic territory.

Then, on the EP’s title track, he sings: “Nothing’s in vain, because I’ve never had it as good before,” an implicit riposte at the detractors that also sees him celebrate the distance he’s travelled. ‘Do You Ever’, meanwhile, features a patchwork of vocal samples that jostle for space atop a menacing beat, reminiscent of Assume Form's Andre 3000-featuring highlight ‘Where’s The Catch?’.

This vinyl edition features a DJ style generic black die-cut sleeve produced by Polydor Records. Mastered at 45RPM for maximum fidelity. There is no album artwork.

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