James Blake offers idiosyncratic musical blend: Noteworth Releases

Posted by Kara Clark

James Blake's first full-length and self-titeld album, "James Blake" is running rampant on-campus via word-of-mouth.

Released on Feb. 8 in the U.S., this London native's album offers an idiosyncratic musical blend.

Blake has released EPs and singles prior to this album, since the spring of 2010. These songs were more electronically oriented with hints of soulfulness Blake would later develop.

His work caught the attention of BBC Radio 1, and, since then, Blake has been pinpointed as an artist to watch.

Blake's curious mixture of electronic, acoustic and R&B style is immediately captivating.

The album sounds like what Bon Iver and Kanye West could have delved into with their track on West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

Kick drum, piano and acoustic guitar echo behind Blake's soulful, heavily auto-tuned vocals, which are placed especially high in the mix.

The track "Unluck" starts the album off with ominous synth and a simple beat, eventually morphing into a complex percussion pattern that feigns erraticism. Blake laments, "I wouldn't like you, playing, falling, there."

The album boasts plenty of excellent moments. "Wilhelm Scream" and "I Never Learned To Share" epitomize the beauty that can be found in emptiness, not only due to Blake's pained voice, but also because of the scarcity of sound in both songs.

However, these tracks manage to avoid stagnancy, due to an intense sonic catharsis toward their ends. "To Care Like You" and "Lindisfarne (I and II)" follow the same vein.

The weaker selections of the album tend to be tracks that feature piano and vocals alone. Songs like these have been done before, and without the electronic spin that Blake executes on his other songs, they're inevitably boring.

Several critics have labeled this release as a "dubstep album," a conclusion that is questionable at best. This album differs entirely from the music that plays at dubstep parties in Scribner Village on the weekends.

Blake will more likely inspire thought rather than movement. The album is certainly influenced by dubstep, but the overall album cannot be considered a good example of the genre.

The album is good, but not as great as most will claim it to be. Blake has created a few outstanding songs, but they are all enticing for the same reasons.

This album may need a different kind of diversity than what Blake has provided.

Instead of the simple and complex songs, this album calls for a further exploration of the stylistic blending that Blake obviously does well.

His more laid-back dubstep beats garner more interest and will hopefully be featured more in his future works.

Kara Clark is a sophomore English major who hopes to find a job after college.

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