Perfect Sound Whatever: James Acaster Interview

James Acaster is one of the biggest comedians in the world at the moment, and coming off the back of constantly sold out tour dates and his universally acclaimed Netflix specials, James has written a book focused on music that released in 2016.

I chatted to him about why he wrote about 2016 specifically, and the music he encountered along the way. Three instant classics from 2016 got him started on his journey, after a long period of not really engaging with new releases.

“During 2016 I got into three big albums – Blackstar by David Bowie, Lemonade by Beyoncé and Blonde by Frank Ocean, after a decade of engaging with very little modern day music.”

“It got me excited about pop music and at the end of 2016 I really enjoyed reading the end of year lists on all the music websites. In January 2017 I launched into my own personal breakdown and so I did the thing that’d most recently bought me joy in order to cope and continued to read the 2016 end of year lists and buy the albums from it. I just kept going until I felt better. It took about two years.”

Finding every album worth listening to released in 2016 sounds like a daunting task. I asked James how he went about even beginning to find them all.

“Online Lists, YouTube vlogs, Pitchfork, Bandcamp, Word of mouth, Googling musicians I liked on the off chance they had a 2016 project.”

“Some bands even contacted me when they found out about the project. Just every means necessary really.”

Listening to that much music must uncover a few hidden gems, so I asked James what some underrated albums he had discovered are:

“There are so many. I think Badd Timing by The Sooper Swag Project sounds like no other rap album ever and Pixvae by Pixvae sounds like no other rock album ever. But I could give you a very long list of Overlooked Masterpieces From 2016.”

As well as these albums that James feels are underrated, when trawling upon hundreds of recommendations and listicles there must be some albums on the other end of the scale:

“Loads of people were recommending Moenai Hai by The Gerogerigegege. I think it was a prank.”

“It’s just a bunch of nothing-y background sound then one kind of song then more nothingness. It really wound me up because I had to go so far out of my way to obtain a copy. I bet I’ll try and get into it again one day though.”

I had a listen to it, and I agree.

‘Perfect Sound Whatever’ is out on the 22nd August and you can pre-order it here. It contains a story about James shitting his pants.

 

 

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James Blake – Assume Form Review

The new album from Singer/Producer James Blake can be a bit of a mixed bag, and seems a bit one-note at the beginning, but when it gets into its stride and you give it more listens, it’s not hard to see why he gathers so much attention, this being his best project to date.

‘Tell Them’ is a mesmerising, low-key trap infused track, with great features from Moses Sumney and Metro Boomin, with Moses’ vocals melding really well with James. This flows beautifully into the more sombre and touching ‘Into The Red’, which is a genuinely lovely tribute to Jameela Jamil, his current girlfriend.

Rosalia’s vocals are silky smooth as always on the track ‘Barefoot In The Park’, again James showing he knows who fits in well with his own sound, and the following track ‘Can’t Believe The Way We Flow’ continues a great run of tracks.

‘Where’s The Catch?’ with Andre 3000 is my favourite track on the album, with Andre unsurprisingly delivering an amazing verse over a great, complex beat provided by James, with the track shifting from calmer chill-hop to glitchier beats effortlessly.

‘I’ll Come Too’ is another heartfelt ballad, set to slightly spooky sounding theramin-esque backing synths and strings, but it works really well.

This is James at his best: honest, open and with all his emotions on his sleeve, allowing him to make the best music he ever has.

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