BEST NEW INDIE: JAMES BLAKE - DON'T MISS IT
Don't Miss James Blakes' New Collaboration With Mount Kimbie’s Dom Maker, "Don't Miss It."
James Blake doesn't want to be called a "sad boy," feeling that it diminishes people's struggles with legitimate mental illness. "Don't Miss It," a moody piano-driven ballad dropped last weekend on Blake's BBC Radio 1 residency with his 1-800-Dinosaur project with a Grime rapper, doesn't do much to dispel the label, however.
JAMES BLAKE - DON’T MISS IT
"Don't Miss It" is only the second single James Blake has released since 2016's The Colour Of Anything. Blake's moved away from the down-and-dirty post-dubstep in the ensuing years. James Blake has shed the leaden bassweight he built his reputation on for a much more fragile, acoustic, piano-driven Pop sound. He sounds in danger of drifting off into the stratosphere, like a Chinese lantern floating into the sunset, never to be seen again.
"Don't Miss It" creeps in with sparse, skeletal chords, an update on Radiohead's "Pyramid Song," which was an update on a Charles Mingus song. Futuristic jazz and sad sack indie rock both seem relevant touchstones. There's a hint of Alice Coltrane's spiritual jazz in the open-ended piano chords and shuffling, beyond-syncopated beat. It also brings to mind the elegiac, ghostly emotionality of Burial, another artist to use the framework of dubstep to express the chaotic confusion of modern living.
Blake’s single is like Radiohead getting together with Frank Ocean to dish out a short, heartbroken ballad of love and loss. It’s cover art depicts a screenshot, with the enigmatic lines "When you stop being a ghost in the shell / And everybody keeps saying you look well / Don't miss it / Like I did." It seems to be a comment on the toll that being an artist and musician can take. It becomes all-consuming, leaving little room to be a person.
In his memoir on the craft of writing On Writing, horror meister Stephen King mentions why it's a good idea to keep your desk in the corner. "You know why you keep your desk in the corner? So it doesn't take up the whole room." Life is meant to support art, not the other way around. Perhaps James Blake is coming to this conclusion, several years into being one of the hottest, most talented producers to truly blend progressive, forward-thrusting electronic music with Pop sensibilities and a glowing emerald heart. We Are: The Guard can't wait to hear what he gets into next!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.