By Marissa G. Muller
Just when you think you’ve figured out James Blake, the enigmatic UK producer swerves left, making it impossible to predict his next move.
Last night when Blake stopped by BBC Radio 1 for his weekly residency, he surprise-dropped a new track, forthcoming on his 1-800-Dinosaur label.
The song, “200 Press,” is weirder than we’ve seen Blake get in awhile. One part drugged-out house jam, one part campfire song, “200 Press” is an infectious swirl of operatic diva vocals, pitched-down vocals clanging pipe synths and a cowbell. The sparse lyrics are another highlight with Blake demanding in a demonic voice, “Get around the beat like a campfire/ Singing folk songs/ Remember ‘Kumbaya My Lord?'”
It’s a major pivot from Blake’s 2013 Mercury Prize-winning Overgrown, which was an emotionally restrained, deconstructed take on pop and R&B. “200 Press” instead feels closer in spirit to Blake’s quietly released and massively underrated experimental 2011 EP Love What Happened Here.
Either way, it will be interesting to see where Blake goes from here and hopefully we won’t have to wait for that too long.
Listen to “200 Press” at the 31:00 mark at BBC Radio 1.