Brian Eno ribs James Blake over his use of “the asshole chord”

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Brian Eno ribs James Blake over his use of "the asshole chord”

Brian Eno has poked fun at James Blake for his use of a so-called “asshole chord” in one of his biggest hits.

The moment took place during a new interview between the two, titled Talking Robots Into Heaven – A Conversation Between James Blake & Brian Eno.

Uploaded yesterday (September 20), the conversation comes as part of a follow-up to Blake’s latest studio album, ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’, which arrived earlier this month.

A highlight of the discussion came when the two took a look back at one of the singer-songwriter’s previous hits in which he embedded a chord that Eno has a certain distaste for.

“You once accused me of using the ‘asshole chord’,” Blake said to the English musician, composer, and record producer, leaving him to recall which is the chord in question.

“There’s a way of resolving things in songs which always disappoints me,” Eno explained. “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’.”

Eno went on to reveal that the song guilty of using the chord is none other than Blake’s 2013 hit ‘Retrograde’.

“So it starts with a G major which is the nice chord,” Blake explains, while Eno chimes in to agree, saying: “We like that”.

“Then the bottom G in the right hand I moved up to an A flat, and that made it diminished over a G bass,” Blake continues. “That was when your head cocked like a dog listening to a high pitch, and you said: ‘That’s the asshole chord!’”

Blake also joked that the moment touched a nerve at the time. He said that he was so affected by Eno’s comment that he attempted to remake the song without the dreaded chord change but had to give up because “the song doesn’t work without it”.

“It impacted me in that moment,” he told Eno, teasing that the moment led to “years of pain” and a visit to the “therapist’s office”. Find the full interview below.

In other news, it was revealed by Netflix last month that Eno’s soundtrack for the series Top Boy is set for release on vinyl, CD, and digital formats, coinciding with the final season of the series.

This marks the first time that any of Eno’s music from the series, aside from two tracks included on Eno’s album ‘Film Music 1976 – 2020’, will be available to the public.

He’s also set to embark on a European tour this autumn, marking his first solo tour in his five-decade career.

As for Blake, his new album ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ recently received a four-star review from NME, which described it as the producer venturing “back into his club roots”.

“As ever, Blake’s singular vision results in electrifying and innovative electronic music,” it read.

“‘Tell Me’ is full of interesting contrasts… a gradual build-up pays off massively thanks to a synth explosion and all-out warehouse rave in the second half.”

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