James Blake - James Blake Album Review

Review of James Blake Album by James Blake

More than a decade after the slow, dark and deep electronic sound now called dubstep began to develop in the dirty bedsits of penniless but forward-looking electronic artists, it finally has something close to a break-out star. James Blake is tall, handsome, young, talented, and unafraid to acknowledge Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell as musical influences. In short, he is glamorous, a quality which dubstep's biggest names have tended to lack, and a quality which saw him finish second in the BBC's recent Sound of 2011 poll. At the same time, he's wilfully and admirably committed to a distinctive artistic vision, and anybody who half-expected this album to be a slick, unambitious attempt to cash in on his growing popularity will come away pleasantly surprised: it's nothing of the kind. Blake is the first British pop star in a long time to marry easy glamour with a commitment to making innovative, interesting music.

James Blake James Blake Album

This self-titled album almost completely reverses some dance music's tendency towards slick, full-throttle cartoonishness. It's a record which is as slow, meticulous, and emotionally engaged as its first single, the Feist cover 'Limit To Your Love', suggested it would be. Blake employs the musical building blocks from which he created that track throughout the album. Stately piano chords ring out and then abruptly stop. Syncopated beats wink into existence, tiptoe about nervously for a while, then disappear. The vocals, which Blake relies on far more than he did in his previous work, are heavily processed and frequently multi-tracked, but despite this sound plaintive and soulful; a single lyric will typically be repeated again and again, gaining emotional force with each repetition. Particularly powerful examples of this technique include 'I Never Learnt To Share' ('My brother and my sister don't speak to me/but I don't blame them') and the forthcoming single 'Wilhelm's Scream' ('I don't know about my love/I don't know about my loving anymore/All that I know is that I'm falling'). Tracks like these have as much in common with soul music as they do with dubstep, but despite the protestations of some genre nerds, the tempo and atmosphere of his music mark him out as someone rooted in the dubstep aesthetic.

Blake's music can be divisive, and one criticism has a grain of truth in it: the carefully composed and arranged nature of his music sometimes detracts from its emotional pull. There's something to be said for this; all the finest romantic gestures are spontaneous, but Blake's musical gestures are anything but, and the studied nature of songs like 'Limit To Your Love' - the pauses, the use of silence, the precise playing - does detract a little from their emotional pull. The flip-side of this is how spectacularly odd this tension can make his music sound; James Blake contains some songs of love and loss which seem to have been composed by an alien who has never experienced love or loss, but is fascinated by the idea. The unsettling strangeness of these tracks is one of many reasons why the record succeeds.

Nick Gale




Site - http://jamesblakemusic.com

Advertisement

More James Blake

ATP Defend Themselves Over The Jabberwocky Fiasco

We reported yesterday that two companies tied up in Jabberwocky-gate are taking legal action against ATP - Dash Tickets and The Zeitgeist Agency. But today,...

Jabberwocky Update: Two Companies Kick Off Legal Proceedings Against ATP

The debacle that is the Jabberwocky has taken a fresh new turn. In addition to the ballyhoo created by cancelling the festival at short notice...

What Can We Expect From The New XX Album?

The XX are a band who have achieved the rare accolade of matching their critical success with a commercial viability after the minimalist electronic strains...

Ivor Novellos Victory For London Grammar As Mercurys Snub Forgotten

London Grammar lead the honours at last night's 59th annual Ivor Novello awards in London. The trip-hop trio, Dominic Major, Hannah Reid and Daniel Rothman,...

Advertisement

Keep Calm And Party On! London's Ten Most Exciting Festivals For 2014

If you want a unique festival experience this year, London could be the place for you. Featuring a diverse range of events from the independent...

Kanye, Elton, Jack and Lionel: Say Hello To Bonnaroo Festival's Line-Up 2014

The line-up for this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has been announced and looks to be more impressive than ever with Elton John, Kanye...

Governors Ball Music Festival 2014 Lineup Feat. Outkast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Strokes And More

The 4th Annual Governors Ball Music FestivalAnnounces 2014 LineupFeaturing...Outkast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Phoenix, Skrillex, Interpol, Axwell & Ingrosso, Tv On The Radio,...

Brit Awards 2014 Nominations: Disclosure, Bastille, Rudimental Emerge On Top

The nominees have been announced for this year's Brit Awards, which will be presented live in a ceremony on ITV on the 19th February. The...

Advertisement

Comments

James Blake Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on James Blake

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All