James Blake - S/T

Alex Yau 22/02/2011

Rating: 4/5

2011: The year in which we're all told to stop what we're doing, jump under our tables and worship one man like he's some sort of musical messiah. Who is that man? That's James Blake, London's electronic answer to Jesus, Superman and Barry Scott. Of course the hype is always a hard thing to carry. It's a particularly hard weight for Blake to carry, having already been “bigged” up by the BBC in 2009, two years before the release of this album; it'd be interesting to see if the BBC have thrown Blake out and called him the nearest cab home in the future. But for now, the future seems bright for our young Goldsmith's graduate.

The excitement surrounding Blake's earlier work gave us a look into his new born work, his songs of innocence if you may (William Blake fans rejoice!). Klavierwerke and CMYK established him as an accessible artist as well as a ground breaking one but it was with his cover of Feist's “Limit to Your Love” that really set the ball rolling. Discarding the rich beautiful tapestry of the original, Blake hit it with a nuclear bomb (in a good way) turning that naturalistic landscape into a desolated one with a silence that was so pleasurably deafening. Being used as the mid section in this isolated landscape, It represents album with the same air of dread pierces your ears throughout the majority of the
record. It's a barren environment in which opener Unluck etches away a blanket of minimalist distortions and noise to reveal Blake's voice, a robotic synthesis of a frail and lonely that croons in an industrialised imperfection.

This same sentiment follows as tales of family dysfunction are sound tracked by tears of disjointed synths and death drums that seem to carry on a perpetual tension (“I Never Learnt to Sing”) whilst our protagonist loses himself in a mess of forgotten dreams and confusion which bubble up into a seeping ooze of blurred and ambiguous malfunction, as Blake weeps: “I don't know about my dreams, all that I know is I'm falling, falling, falling.” But past all the electronic influences comes a Blake that is even more stripped down calling on the soul and impact of Anthony Hegarty (“Give Me My Month”, “Why Don't You Call Me?”).

Starsailor once proclaimed: “Silence is Easy” and it seems to be a prophecy that rings true for Blake, an artist, a story teller and a musician who occupies that hidden and unknown area at the back of our minds. It's a moment where silence never sounded so spine tinglingly good. Give me my month? Give the man the year.

Release date: 07/02/2011