James Blake

Crown prince of the quiet revolution

James Blake has a lot to be scared of. He is the hype of 2011, ‘the next xx’, peddler of the nigh-unwieldy freight of bass music - and experimental at that - with gospel vocals, that makes him an impossibly talented producer and impossibly talented vocalist in the same breath. The xx’s debut album in summer 2009 changed a lot of things for Blake. Jamie xx, he tells Clash, “warmed the seat” for him, changing forever the way “people listen to that brand of sparse electronic music.” Their sublimated landscapes made a new genre of music acceptable to the public, one which didn’t have to fight for your attention, which breathed. At this point Blake was ostensibly a post- producer - post-dubstep, post-house, whatever you want to call it - with contemporaries like Mount Kimbie, Floating Points, Untold, and across the pond Kyle Hall and the Brainfeeder label. Even at this stage, the ingredient that was exclusive to Blake’s sound was its space, its ease within itself; air-cushioned solace in a world full of shit-talkers. His production style ranges from the cardiographic bass pulses and funereal piano of his harder ‘Klaviewerke’ single, to the plangent R&B samples, often compressed beyond recognition, of tracks like ‘CMYK’ and the album’s excellent ‘To Care (Like You Do)’, which features Blake singing. In these cuts he is redolent of Burial, and in other tracks he uses squeaky upwardly flowering effects used by Mount Kimbie and Flying Lotus associate Nosaj Thing.

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James Blake

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