James Blake not overgrown, but has grown!

James Blakes selftitled debut is without doubt a strong debut album, and a modern classic.

His experimental neo-dubstep on that album, was full of James Blakes creative production, mostly snippets of his soulful voice. At times it was to experimental for me. And too little focused and lacking structure. A collection of songs rather than a complete album.

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Now that his second album is here, I have to admit I was a bit excited and sceptic if he managed to outdo his first album.

The first single “Retrograde” showed a “new” James Blake. He sounded less experimenal and more laid back. The production was softer, James Blake focused more on his vocals – he dared to be a vocalist, an singer songwriter. James Blake is not only a producer, a songwriter, arranger – but he´s also a extraordinary vocalist. With a voice that sounds like a cross between Talk Talks Mark Hollis, Antony & The Johnsons Antony Hegarty and the norwegian singer songwriter Thomas Dybdahl. Warm, soulful – smooth!

With his second album, James Blake have grown up, but not outgrown himself.

The production is better, he has written songs this time – almost all songs have full lyrics and a structure instead of snippets of looped vocals like on the debutalbum. If Blake had tried to outdo the debut album – make an even more experimental – make a James Blake pt II, I am afraid he would have tried to hard.

Instead he has mellowed the production, and he looks back. I can hear traces of trip hop here. Artists like Massive Attack, Tricky and even Björk seems to be inspiration, he even flirts with the dancefloor here and there.

Second track and third track “I Am Sold” and “Life Round Here” both tracks makes me think how Massive Attack around “Protection” would sound with James Blake as guest vocalist. The only guest artists is vocalist from Wu-Tang/Gravediggaz member and actor/screenwriter/director RZA who raps in english (instead of american) on “Take A Fall For Me” a song that sounds more like Tricky – than Tricky himself has done for years.

Skip forward to the Brian Eno produced “Digital Lion” where James Blake does a track that sounds like a update on Björks “Hyper Ballad” mixed with Plastikmans “Spastik”.

If you want to dance, the club-friendly beats of french sounding song titled “Voyeur” is the track to seek. And when he let the beats pump out of the stereo for the last minute it´s almost like James Blake asks for the track to be included on a DJ-mix album. I would love to hear someone do a fat clubmix of this track!

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Have you noticed war siren sound on several of the tracks? It seems to be part of a concept on this album. The sound is incorporeted at the end of a majority of the tracks: The one finger push on one button on the synth, and held down/looped and/or timestreched for the next minute or so. Until the end of the song (see i.e. “Retrograde” for a perfect example). If there is a soundconcept on the album, this sound is!

James Blakes Top 5 most popular songs according to Spotify is

  1. “Retrograde” off “Overgrown” album,
  2. “Limit To Your Love” the beautiful Feist cover from “James Blake”
  3. “CMYK”
  4. “A Case Of You” his wonderful version of the Joni Mitchell classic
  5. “The Willhelm Scream” off James Blake

You can listen to “James Blake” and “Overgrown” here, if you use Spotify If you want to buy the albums, click here to download through iTunes

If his two cover versions of “Limit To Your Love” and “A Case Of You” is what you love about James Blake and is the sounds you love from him. I promise you you would love the whole “Overgrown” album. Some reviewers has called the album to slow, and if i should agree with that I would say the album is a slowburner. But let it sink in. It comes to you slowly – and when it hits you – you´re stuck!

Where James Blakes debut lacked a red thread is his second album lighter and more accessable, not only for the hipsters, but for all lovers of great music!

James Blake Overgrown Yes! And he’s still growing, just like this album is doing!

The amazing rise of Rebekka Karijord!

Rebekka Karijords single “Use My Body While It´s Still Young” knocked me off my feet the first time I heard it. The song was her first single from her then forthcoming album “We Become Ourselves” – a two-part concept album about nature, and the relationship between men and women.

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The single is huge with it´s mix of massive bass line, hand claps, choir, church organ, and the  almost big beat / drum´n´bass beats. All instruments are performed by live instruments. Rebekka Karijords biggest instrument is without doubt, her strong and amazing voice. Think a mix between Björk, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. “Use My Body While It´s Still Young” sounds like her answer to – and an updated version of – Björks “Play Dead” – but still, it´s not a rip-off, because Rebekka Karijord has her very own style and voice!

She has had a music career since 2003, but 2012 seems to be her real big breakthrough. Rebekka Karijord moved from Norway to Sweden almost 10 years ago, and has made Stockholm her home, and her career has been more successful in Sweden then in Norway. The A-listed the “Use My Body…” almost immediately after its release. She has toured the album a lot, which has made her a popular act, slowly but surely – she has taken bigger slices of the world during the late summer of 2012. Before her musical career took off she was starring in movies and TV-series, writing her own stage show for theaters, written an opera, made big success with her own circus show i Sweden, writing soundtracks and the list goes on.

Rebekka Karijord is now concentrating 100% on music which really seems so pay off these days.
She is a woman who follows her dreams and paths to reach her goal!

The album “We Became Ourselves” is a fantastic record, which let Rebekka show what an amazing artist she is. She plays lots of the instruments, keep it organic, her voice is out of this world – and the production is fabulous. You can, as earlier mentioned, hear Joni Michell in the slower songs, Bjørk in the more experimental and the adventurous productions of artists like Kate Bush and Tori Amos. The album is a adwenture out of this world.

The song “Multicoloured Hummingbird” even flirts with melody of Bruce Springsteens “I´m On Fire” – I dare to think it´s unintended

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You can listen to the “We Become Ourselves” album on Spotify HERE!

Check her wonderful Homepage and make sure you follow her on Facebook and Twitter, if you´d like to read, hear and follow the rise of Rebekka Karijord.

At the end of 2012, Rebekka Karijords “We Become Ourselves” became “World Album Of The Week” in the influential english magazine MOJO, album of the month (World) back in November, and is on MOJO TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR 2012 (World). I have to admit i would never sort Rebekkas music under the world music genre, because she´s more like an experimental epic singer songwriter.

This year it has been really amazing to follow the rise of Norwegian siren Rebecca Karijord and see and how she´s slowly becoming one of the most exiting artists on the musical map

Back in October, I happened to have my little Q&A session with Rebekka Karijord. And this was before she was being noted on “Best of 2012” lists. It’s really great to see how much her career has grown these last three months, and how influential she has become during 2012!

Q (me): I think I hear traces of both Björk and Kate Bush in you music, what are your biggest inspirations – who influences you most?

A (Rebekka): Björk has always inspired me, but I’m not a big Kate Bush fan I must admit. But in general, strong storytellers have always inspired me. I grew up with Patti Smith, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Neil Young- strong lyrics and loads of musical personality. These days I have a broad music taste, everything from instrumental music, jazz and even a lot of world music inspires me. Some inspiring artist are: Moondog, Robert Wyatt, Feist, Pj Harvey, Elliott Smith, Brian Eno, Radiohead, The National, Mari Boine, Kari Bremnes… I could go on forever. I’m also really influenced by books, poetry, films and articles in the news when I write songs.

Q: You´ve emigrated from Oslo to Stockholm – why did you choose to make Sweden your new home?

A: I studied here, and kind of ended up staying. I have fantastic friends and colleagues here, and my label, publisher etc are all here. Plus it’s a short trip to Norway, which is great!

Q: With your career now being noticed in several countries around the world, how does this feel?

A: Fantastic. I’m super grateful. But you know, when you’re on the inside of something it doesn’t seem as magical as on the outside. I don’t see myself as very successful, I’m still a very small fish in the big pond out there, trying to build something lasting and genuine.

Q: You´ve almost done it all, where to begin; put up your own opera, done theater, starred in movies and tv-series – and now putting all your cards in music – whats your next goal? or to push it even further whats your ultimate goal?

A: I don’t really have goals, or I don’t think of my life and work in those terms. I take one project at the time and try to have fun and keep curious and learn more. I guess that could be a goal; To stay hungry and curious, not get stuck in something I’m not happy in.

Q: Whats your top three favourite records of all time? Which one made you wanna start with music?

A: Ohhh, tricky one. There are so many amazing albums. But I guess I could say these three: Talk Talk’s “East of Eden” , Cat Powers “Moonpix” and Glenn Gould’s recording of the Goldberg Variations by Bach. I think all three of them together expresses a quite good combination of my influences. It’s all about the stories, the sound and the human body and heart, with all its flaws and bruises.

Thank you for this little talk Rebekka and for enriching me with a little insight in your life and influences – and for releasing one of the years greatest albums!

Rebekka Karijord is definitely one of the most exciting artists to follow. She has without doubt made one of the best albums of the year 2012.

“We Become Ourselves” is a classic album that will be discovered in years to come and it will still sound as fresh as it did back in 2012!