Before James Blake, the back-of-the-throat crooner, came James Blake, the cut-and-paste producer, whose compositions made the heart beat faster with a frightening handle on tension, sparking points and evocative pitched vocals. His powers came to something of a dancefloor peak on ‘CMYK’, a track which combined Kelis and Aaliyah with basic bleeps to devastating effect, laying the foundation for his fledgling career.
Around the same time that ‘CMYK’ was everywhere, a series of tracks dropped under Blake’s pseudonym Harmonimix, on white labels and in DJ mixes. Huge hits by Lil Wayne, Destiny’s Child and Outkast were reworked in ways that made them sound completely fresh – no mean feat given ‘A Milli’, ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ and ‘Miss Jackson’ were played out relentlessly everywhere in their heydays.
The one cut which came from the Harmonimix name which wasn’t instantly recognisable was one featuring Trim, a former member of the Roll Deep crew in which he invited you to strike a pose, “if you work hard for what’s yours, and you know that your name’s on your rent book”, or “if you had a Dad or a Mum, and not both”, or “if you was brought up in a foster home with no Pops to phone”.
Two years later, it’s finally seeing the light of day, and it’s even more devastating in full. First half drums and speaker breeze, second half winding siren, Trim intones with self-assurance and determination throughout. The climax feels like an examination of the soul, one you’ll pass if you’ll just strike a fucking pose.