Im letzten Jahr veröffentlichte der 22-jährige, der Pop Musik auf dem Goldsmiths College London studierte, drei hoch gelobte EPs ("The Bells Sketch", "CMYK" und "Klavierwerke") und die Single "Limit To Your Love". Diese Coverversion des Songs von Feist, die ihm erste kommerzielle Erfolge bescherte, führte ihn auch auf die BBC's Sound of 2011 Liste. Nun müssen die elf Titel seines Debütalbums die hohen Erwartungen erfüllen. James Blake singt mit hoher, teils souliger Stimme, die immer wieder gesampelt und durch den elektronischen Synthiewolf gedreht wird. Als prägende Gesangseinflüsse nennt er selbst Joni Mitchel, Laura Marling und Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Dazu pluckern zum Piano die Computer irgendwo zwischen Ambient, R 'n' B und minimalem Dubstep. Man stelle sich vor, John Cage, D'Angelo, The XX, Portishead und Aphex Twin remixten ein Album von Bon Iver oder Antony and The Johnsons!
Aside from the hype, this album is by no means a feasible breakthrough into the mainstream – there’s not stride enough for that. But when it’s at its best, it’s boundary-breaking – and Blake is indeed a rare specimen, with many faces, each obscured. Each playback draws the listener in closer towards to the record’s core, like a dimmer switch being raised incrementally – a true beauty to behold.
"Limit To Your Love" Video
However this is an album beyond the grasps of categorisation; aside from the terrible opening track Unluck, which would be enough to put off many a fickle music fan, James Blake is an exceptionally well crafted album.
Blake is by no means the greatest singer yet the subtle production techniques used to treat his vocals help to provide as distinctive a sound as you might possibly hear all year.
Songs such as Wilhelms Scream and Give Me My Month are impressive but the albums real stand out tracks are those which are more dynamic.
Lindesfarne I and Lindesfarne II are prime examples of auto-tune being used to its most effective, creating an ambience and emotional tone far greater than other vocoder pedallers such as Bon Iver can muster.
On a number of tracks Blake makes use of distorted samples of his own vocals, which at times sound very similar to a woman’s voice. The resulting sound works almost as a response to Blake’s narrative and provides an antithetic feel to the sorrow-filled To Care (Like You).
Releasing a cover of Feist’s Limit to Your Love as the albums lead single was an obvious choice, but it is the best track on James Blake. By stripping away much of folksy-elements of the Feist version Blake creates a sound that resonates much more than the original and does far more justice to its potentially moving lyrics.
Whilst other breakthrough artists may release far more commercially viable albums this year James Blake will undoubtedly be amongst a handful of releases that are genuinely progressive. The subtlety and care shown in producing this album go a long way to proving that success is most definitely in the execution.