​Brian Eno calls out James Blake for using “the asshole chord” in ‘Retrograde’

today20/09/2023 4

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Brian Eno has shared his distaste for what he calls “the asshole chord” in a new interview alongside James Blake.

In Talking Robots Into Heaven – A conversation between James Blake & Brian Eno, posted yesterday as a follow-up interview to the recent release of James Blake’s ‘Robots Into Heaven’, the producer explains: “You once accused me of using the ‘asshole chord’.”

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When Blake asks Eno to explain what the chord is, he’s told: “There’s a way of resolving things in songs which always disappoints me.”

“You have a sort of setup, and you think: ‘Don’t go to that one, don’t go to that one’, and it goes to that one and you think, ‘oh, god.”

Blake mentions that Eno was referencing his most popular song, 2013-released ‘Retrograde’, where the track meets long, droning synth chords at the halfway point.

“So it starts with a G major which is the nice chord,” Blake explains. “We like that,” Eno adds. “Then the bottom G in the right hand I moved up to an A flat, and that made it diminished over a G bass,” he says. “That was when your head cocked like a dog listening to a high pitch, and you said: ‘That’s the asshole chord!’.”

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Blake goes on to explain that he attempted to remake the track without that chord, but gave up because “the song doesn’t work without it”.

“It impacted me in that moment,” he tells Eno, looking back at the composer’s distaste for the chord in ‘Retrograde’. “Years of pain, therapist’s office!” he joked.

Watch the full interview below.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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