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James Blake

In Choice Cuts, London and the UK on January 19, 2011 at 11:08 am

James Blake (this one, not this one) made a big splash in the electronic music scene with a series of EPs in the now long gone 2010. His first official album, aptly titled James Blake, is set for release in the motherland on February 7, and it’s definitely worth getting excited about.

James Blake’s music is often described as dubstep, but don’t get turned off. It bears little resemblance to the WOMP WOMP WOMP dubstep that has gained popularity among club goers and drug users in the past couple years, which, although it certainly has its merits, has never really appealed to me. My favorite Blake tune from before the release of his album, “Air & Lack Thereof”, displays both the parallels to the genre, mostly in the construction and tools used to make the song, while clearly demonstrating a result that is far different (and, in my opinion, a bit more listenable).

Blake’s new album strays a bit further still, and also, notably, showcases the electronic composer’s striking singing voice. Even while often tinkered with and muddled by electronics, Blake’s powerful vocals are the driving force that connects all the songs on the album. Check out this live performance, from BBC 1, of the second track on the album, “Wilhelms Scream”, named after the famous movie sound effect. Seeing this song performed live is really quite interesting, as it shows what instruments are physical making the sounds heard on the song. Also, the song is really fucking good.

And here’s one more taste. This is a music video for “Limit to Your Love”, originally by Feist. The visuals here are pretty damn cool, but the song itself is the standout. When I was discussing James Blake with my uncle, who knows a little bit about popular music, he kept saying that the most notable part of the songs he had heard so far was the use of silence. You know those “loud silences” that people talk about in both songs and awkward conversations. This conversation was before my uncle had heard this full album, in reference to tracks from 2010, but the same effect is very prevalent on these new tracks. This song is a great example.

Blake’s album comes out in a couple weeks in the UK, and also has a US distribution deal for later this year. We implore you to listen to it.

Ethan Scholl

P.S. Fun Fact: My colleague Steve attended school in the UK with James Blake, although he did not know it until he recently watched a video of Blake performing live. He was a year above Steve, and was referred to as “Tall James”. How bout that?

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