James Blake “James Blake”

On last years CMYK EP, James Blake took samples from Kelis, Aaliyah and more, to create a perfect, fully-formed EP that reflected nothing of the R&B splices that ended up on it. Instead, he had a sort of stop-start tendency towards dubstep (post-dubstep, apparently); a relationship with a genre that he didn’t always seem dedicated to, perhaps because he spent his time trying to break it down. By the time his third EP Klavierwerke was released late last year, he was beginning to embrace his own voice as more of an instrument, and on his self-titled album he’s incorporated that idea even more. Not that it’s always front-and-center though — at times he manipulates it until it’s almost unrecognisable (‘Lindesfarne I & II’), while other times it’s a little more clear-cut (‘Give Me My Month’). But what isn’t there is just as important; his tendency to get minimalist is on-point even if it doesn’t always work that well, and he let’s his songs build up with barely much more than piano and vocal, occasionally dropping in fragments of bass and drums. His most accessible song here is the Feist cover of ‘Limit To Your Love’, where he shadows the original’s optimism, but not it’s appeal. The track becomes sparse, lonely, and as dark as everything else that came before it. – Hear these now: ‘The Wilhelm Scream’, ‘Unluck’, ‘To Care (Like You)’. [B+]

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