James Blake probably doesn’t need much introduction to many readers as one of the most highly anticipated artists of 2011 after finishing in second place in the BBC’s prestigious ‘Sound of 2011’. His unique cover of Feist’s Limit To Your Love is therefore receiving considerable airplay as a result.
Blake has gone straight in with a self-entitled debut album which is more than fitting, considering the type of artist Blake is. There is no need for a gimmicky title with an artist like Blake because of the simplistic format he works to.
Blake could quite easily fit in the role of a stereotypical male singer, suited to conventional ballads what with his classical piano training but he has not took the easy option and that for me is particularly admiral.
Those who listen to commercial radio and formulate their concept of dubstep from it will be surprised to know that Blake is in fact part of the dubstep scene.
Dubstep is essentially deep base and very low, deep, base sounds are what Blake works his music around.
Blake’s debut is very simplistic, this works in one of two ways; it will either prove beautifully minimal or leave you wanting more with some songs lasting between 1 to 2 minutes of simply vocal voice distortion such as on tracks such as Lindesfarne I.
The voice distortion whilst working well on a number of Blake’s tracks, works best for me where there is additional elements involved such as the disrupted piano and further effects working in unison with one another, such as on follow up track Lindesfarne II.
I think you need to be open-minded about this album as it throws musical obstacles at you throughout its 12 tracks. For me, again, the one’s that work best are those that are both experimental but where everything seems to have a place. This isn’t always the case however, with some tracks (as I have previously mentioned) and you experience this from the beginning with opener, Unluck.
When elements do work together it really does shine through on this album though, such as on Wilhelm Scream, which is hauntingly deep and what I can only describe as an utterly beautiful piece of work.
This album is incredibly thought provoking to write about for me and this shows how much of an intriguing, standout album it is, for all that it is.
James Blake- James Blake is released February 7th 2011.