Tucked near the end of Maren Morris’ new album GIRL is a lovely little tune called “The Bones.” Like many Morris songs, it’s not about the art of songwriting but could just as easily be an allegory for her expertise in that area. In “The Bones,” a busted old house that has weathered the elements … More »
A cacophony of trumpets coalesces with the warm notes of a saxophone to pierce the silence on “The Beginning,” an attention-grabbing, aptly titled number that opens Louis Futon’s debut album, Way Back When. Inherently dynamic, Futon has long treated listeners to his forward thinking remixes, to place his own idiosyncratic spins on other artists’ offerings, like James Blake‘s “Retrograde,” and Travis Scott‘s “Wake Up.” Now, Futon channels his creative efforts into an extended, 14-track showing that radiates the bright, buoyant personality characteristic of a Futon single.
Way Back When engages listeners from start to finish in its unpredictability, and the fun that Futon evidently had when engineering the debut project is audible in each song of the album. The bold instrumental components of “The Beginning” are crisp commencers that yield to the twinkling synths and comparatively syrupy pace of the album’s second song, “Surreal.” Delightfully kaleidoscopic in the nature of its cuts, Way Back When dabbles in the vocal-centric on “Rewind,” with the bubbly assistance of Ashe and Armani White. Futon melds playful tones with glitchy arrangement on “Supposed To Be,” to craft a rhythmically oriented joint, accented with DUCKWRTH delivered hip-hop verses. Way Back When traverses distinctive sonic territories across its 14 comprising cuts, to emerge as a highly developed debut project that is duly diverse in its sound, and cohesive.
Photo credit: Louis Futon/Facebook
Louis Futon is releasing his debut album, Way Back When, on Feb. 22. To celebrate the occasion, he produced another fan favorite flip of James Blake‘s crooning “Retrograde.” Through sped-up vocals and a swinging groove, Futon caresses the core of the track with wet chords, guitar riffs, jazz flute, and saucy sax. The funky electro artist from Philly enlisted Berklee College of Music alum Hailey Niswanger for her prowess on the flute and guitar, which added much-needed jazz elements to the melodically complex rendition.
As always, Futon, shares a glimpse of his production process in a concise video, outlining the steps taken to create edit posted on his SoundCloud. Earlier this year, he gave listeners a taste of his debut album with the single, “Supposed to Be” featuring Duckwrth and Baegod.
Travis Scott was electric at 2019’s Grammy Awards, performing a selection of tracks from his latest album Astroworld. To kick things off, the Houston-born phenomenon rattled off “Stop Trying To Be God” with featured artist James Blake. They also had assistance from Earth, Wind & Fire members as well as producer Mike Dean, who aided in creating a smooth, melodic aura that was quickly interrupted by the intro for Scott’s “No Bystanders,” panning to a large cage containing an elevated Scott. It’s safe to say that utter craziness proceeded to ensue, as a mixture of fans and stuntmen charged the stage for some mosh pits and cage dancing to close out.
The 26-year-old rapper received two nominations for single “SICKO MODE” featuring Drake and one for best rap album. Scott is also featuring on Blake’s latest project Assume Form, which Dancing Astronaut reviewed here.
2019 might be some kind of cosmic turning point in the history of the Grammys: The first show where the conversation was more about who didn’t perform than who did. Ariana Grande’s fuck-this-shit refusal to play ball with the notorious Grammy-production dumbfucks revealed just how completely this was a show in … More »
Travis Scott released his latest album Astroworld last summer. Tonight, he performed two songs from that album with Philip Bailey and James Blake: “Stop Trying To Be God” and “No Bystanders.” He spent most of the performance inside of a giant cage. Scott performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show with … More »
“Doesn’t it get much clearer?”
A love affair leaps and melts, clinging like licks on lips, and then curt like closed mouths. Its genesis is obliteration. Its absence, whether liberating or apocalyptic, still transforms us. Its history is written in the artifacts its apostles leave behind.
“Doesn’t it seem connected?”
If you could hold it in your hands, would you keep it? Where would be safe enough? A locked drawer in a living room desk? A shed in the corner of your parents’ yard in Jersey? Would you bury it in the ground?
The trick is that you can’t hold it in your hands, can’t raise it up to your eyes and scrutinize it rationally, reasonably. All you have is hot choler and kisses, moments of oversaturated sensations. It’s hard to nail down. Why would you want to nail it down? How dare you assume form.
“Doesn’t it get you started?”
Assume Form, the fourth album from James Blake, cradles it in baubles and coos, honeys and hums. The love affair is the hearth that forms the center. Relation to another informs every inch of falsetto, every air’s intake and proclamation of devotion. It even starts with a thesis: “I will assume form/ I’ll leave the ether.”
The ether will always be there, and we’ll always be in it, and Assume Form promises formation and corporeality in spite/light of it. Even amid the title track’s spinning clicks of samples and disembodied piano lines, this is James Blake’s art of location and echoes attached to attachment: “I hope this is the first day/ That I connect motion to feeling.” Between location and our relation to it is whether we feel settled or restless. Blake sees the shadow inherent in the waiting and the wanting (“It feels like a thousand pounds of weight holding your body down in a pool of water, barely reaching your chin”) and also the irises of his beloved and commits to singing joy. It’s frequently exhilarating. At its end, it renders the fat of want as hot fire, not for combustion but for simple warmth; a thigh’s rest on a thigh, the smooth scrape of a fingerprint across a cheek. In the sweet rock of “Lullaby For My Insomniac,” you swear you could chew it and form yourself anew in its glow. If you told me it was Blake’s most stunning composition, would I dare arguing you?
“Doesn’t it make you happier?”
Between “Assume Form” and “Lullaby For My Insomniac” is the arc itself, the doubling and redoubling down on a mode of production that sets Assume Form apart from its predecessors, not always in a good way. “Mile High” and “Tell Them” are songs Blake might have produced for a collaborator (Travis Scott and Moses Sumney, maybe). They’re joyful and catchy. I hum “Tell Them” when I walk my dog in the snow and Metro Boomin’s leery traps ease into something a body would lob against leaving the bedcovers: “Heart, tell ‘em what you came for.” It’s catching but it’s distracted, or at least purposefully buried in conjuring accessibility. “Barefoot in the Park” is more conversation heart, chalky and sweet. It melds Rosalía’s just-so alto and Blake’s always, always affecting croon and sometimes I don’t notice where it ends and “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow” starts. Assume Form, at its center, feels like genre gloop spread over toast: good but too-easily digested. Sometimes it cloys. Sometimes it gets you through the day.
“Doesn’t it feel more natural?”
Suffering is no excuse for artistry, just as joy is not exempt from motivating Great Art. And why do you want Great Art? Sometimes it’s enough to hum it in snow squalls, to bop to it waving at other traffic-bound cars on the BQE. Like André says: “Hey, alright, now this may be a little bit heady/ And, y’know, I hate heady-ass verses,” like Blake says: “I’ll be out of my head this time.” But Blake’s art has always thrived on dislocation, on bridging tension and consonance. It was there in the glitch of the early EPs and the chittering self-titled swerves and the annihilated tangles of Overgrown and the expansive expressionism of The Colour in Anything. It sometimes gets abandoned on Assume Form, which, to its detriment, sometimes assumes cohesion as an end to form, rather than tension as a pathway to feeling.
Because Assume Form follows the one-off release, “If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead.” That song, a paranoiac slab of manipulated voice and doubting re-starts didn’t investigate a joy’s origin so much as it converted despair into a setting for transformation. It raised hackles (“If the car beside you moves ahead”) and stared down the ether (“As much as it feels as though you’re dead”), and it begged the voices to realize, trans-form, that they would survive: “You’re not going backwards.” If you told me it was Blake’s most stunning composition, would I dare arguing you?
“Doesn’t it seem much warmer just knowing the sun will be out?”
How dare we assume form, every day. If we could know it, would we be believe it? Form dictates that James Blake is either the barely-soul piano ballad or the future-noise post-dub chopping. But the trick is we can’t hold that in our hands without reducing the sublime to something low and clickable. How dare we let form impede the observations of a radio voice reporting our surfaces back to us. Assume Form drifts into heady consonance sometimes, yes, too easily discards dissonance, yes, but as soon as you say that, you remember the dark bats of doubt haunting the corners of “Are You in Love?” And before settling near the warmth of want on the record’s final track, “I Could Miss It”: I could avoid real-time and I could ignore my busy mind and I could avoid contact with eyes and I could avoid going outside and I could avoid wasting my life and I could avoid and I could avoid 20/20 sight and I could avoid standing in line and I could avoid the 405 and I could avoid coming to life and I could say anything I like and I could switch off whenever I like and I could sleep whenever I like and I could leave in the middle of the night.
“But I’d miss it.” The form and the words are James Blake, but the feelings are mine, what I wake up to and bid adieu to every morning and night. Assume form and don’t and discard it and don’t and, please, sing of love affairs. We’re not going backwards.
The day before James Blake released his lovestruck new album Assume Form, he shared “Mile High,” a moody, low-slung trap-pop duet with Travis Scott featuring production by superstar beat-maker Metro Boomin. We called the the best song of the week, noting, “Scott turns his depth-charge mutter into an angelic … More »
Just a few hours from now, James Blake will release Assume Form, his truly excellent new album. But first, he’s letting a couple tracks trickle out in advance today. We already heard the Travis Scott and Metro Boomin collab “Mile High” today, and last year’s single “Don’t Miss It” is … More »