Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Conundrum that is James Blake

Seems like I've been a bit grumpy this week so this is just a short note on something I actually love. I've been sitting on the James Blake album for a while now and I still don't think I'm ready to review it. The problem is it feels almost impossible to talk about in any coherent or meaningful way and I don't want to over analyse why I like it - some thing's shouldn't be questioned too much.

There is some music that just takes you by surprise. The Human Behaviour single was first time I heard Bjork and at the time I didn't really understand what I was hearing. Living in North Queensland and not being exposed to the London dance scene nor Bjork's otherwordly wail, all I knew was that I liked it even if I had no cultural touchstones to draw upon to contextualise it. I feel this way about James Blake.

On the one hand, there are echos of Antony and Bon Iver with Homogenic era Bjorkian electronics and a distinct whiff of dubstep but then on the other hand, when I hear a vocoder on Lindesfarne I I really have no idea what's going on because it warps into this truly distinct creature. Whatever is happening on this album is special - really special.

The music hovers and is unforced and much of the sound is unexpected and left field. The cover of Feist's Limit to your love (above) starts as a torch song until this mindbending bass kicks in (and trust me, through good speakers, the bass is so deep that inanimate household objects will move around your house like in the video). Lindesfarne II sounds like an outtake from Bon Iver's first album if Justin Vernon had been hanging out with Kanye's vocoder in that lonely cabin.

I don't think I'm saying anything new or substantial about this album, I think it's just one of those things you have to hear for yourself. An early front runner for album of the year for me.


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