James Blake, the British artist known for his contribution to contemporary popular music and his acclaimed solo work, has released his sixth studio album, titled “Playing Robots Into Heaven.” This album marks Blake’s return to his club-oriented roots, although it presents a more serene atmosphere than one might expect. While some tracks, such as “Loading,” fall flat, the overall record is filled with intricate and surprising textures that captivate the listener.
The album showcases a range of musical elements, including scratchy percussion, ghostly vocals, a children’s choir, lush distortion, and liquid synths. One standout track, “Tell Me,” features siren-like trills reminiscent of Darude’s “Sandstorm,” offering a more tranquil version of the iconic hit. Throughout the album, Blake explores themes of connection and grief, paying homage to the music he admires while incorporating it into his own atmospheric universe.
Noteworthy moments on the album include the jungle vocals sampled on “Big Hammer,” a slightly corny cover of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s “Beautiful” titled “I Want You To Know,” and a touching dedication to his singer-songwriter father, James Litherland, on “If You Can Hear Me.” While “Playing Robots Into Heaven” may not be a complete return to form for Blake, its sleek and plaintive production serves as a welcome reminder of his artistic prowess.
Sources: Personal knowledge.