Electronic producer James Blake has earned himself a dedicated following and critical acclaim over the years with his inventive and genre-bending music. It’s been two and a half years since his last effort, and his return does not disappoint. James Blake continues to push boundaries while maintaining a sound that is intrinsically and entirely unique to him in his latest record Assume Form.
What you really have to appreciate about Blake’s music is how he’s always pushing his comfort zone; and while he’s pushing himself beyond what’s expected, he helps guides others in that direction, too. That’s entirely evident in the features on Assume Form. The most notable is the Travis Scott and Metro Boomin collaboration ‘Mile High.’ In this track, Blake’s signature reverberating chords are accentuated by Metro Boomin’s hip-hop touch and Scott’s careful delivery. It’s not often you see two of hip-hop’s biggest names take things down for a more chill track rather than an energetic one, especially on a feature. James Blake is full of surprises, though. Metro Boomin also features on ‘Tell Them‘ with Moses Sumney, seeing a darker and more intense approach to Blake’s chill rap hybrid. André 3000 also delivers a painstakingly honest verse in ‘Where’s The Catch?‘ as well. It’s not only rap features that surprise, though: Spanish singer ROSALÍA and Blake harmonize throughout ‘Barefoot In The Park‘ in both English and Spanish to show a unique interplaying of languages that feels especially pertinent now.
Though the features add a lot of character to the album, Blake clearly needs no help to make a good track. Assume Form sees a lot of different vibes and messages come across, from a dark, confused, and almost hopeless attitude in opening track ‘Assume Form‘ to a relaxing, if not unsettling end with the paranoid ‘Lullaby For My Insomniac.’ Love replaces reason in the infatuated ‘I’ll Come Too,’ whereas Blake is more intimately and easily in love in ‘Can’t Believe The Way We Flow.’ More mysterious vibes come from the curious sounds of ‘Into The Red‘ and the intimate, almost bluesy ‘Are You In Love?.’ Even the glitchy ‘Don’t Miss It‘ has this calming nature to it, even with its jagged electronics seemingly stabbing through the crystalline chords.
James Blake has a sound entirely unique to him, and it’s entirely because he sets his entire mind out on a platter in his music. You get a sense of every emotion that went into every line of Assume Form, and between the beauty and chaos of the record is an oddly calming, reassuring sound that tells you everything will be alright one day. Maybe its the way Blake has found balance with his own life. Or perhaps it’s just the music’s all-to-familiar nature that seems to always keep us roped in. Regardless, Blake keeps you tied in for the long-haul, and there’s not a moment you’ll regret of it.
Favorite Tracks: Mile High, Barefoot In The Park, Tell Them
Least Favorite Track: Power On
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy Assume Form on Apple Music, and follow our 2019 Playlist on Spotify: