Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Download James Blake — Klavierwerke

Over the past year James Blake has been quietly wooing music critics the world over.  (That sentence began and ended with the same word, ha)  With his singular production aesthetic and wildly accessible body of work, Blake has fast become one of the most important producers around.

The things he does sonically betray every genre they suggest without seeming disobedient or showy.  UK bass music's signifiers decorate Blake's most basic tendencies, but the core of his music is some soul and funk-music quagmire that he navigates via carefully chosen left turns.  Passing associations with dubstep are relevant only insofar as they provide context from whence this music came—a scene characterized by a mile-a-minute progression of new sounds and artists that, in spite of its documented ability to absorb and incorporate its peers' sounds into re-appropriated new forms, has been unable to hold a candle to Blake's unmistakable authority.

Blake's sound is both playfully naive and at times heftily glum.  He tickles his tracks until they let out a flash of uncontrolled emotion, a shriek from say, one of late R&B star Aaliyah's tracks, and your not sure whether to clap or cry so you just press repeat.

Texturally, his music is full of similar contradictions.  Witness dehydrated fuzz blast to the surface for just a moment as liquid bass hugs the bottom end of the mix—both of which operate rhythmically and atmospherically—albeit running in opposite directions.  Experience the vast expanses of his claustrophobic mixing technique or the way in which his tracks breath deeply with life while at the same time choke for air.

Blake's latest release, entitled Klavierwerke or "piano works" (for all you non-German speakers) is, as the title suggests, based largely around his own piano playing.  Far from a classical piece, this EP is a continuation of his warmly futuristic soul contortions—albeit reigned in.  On past releases his tracks rarely raised their voices, throughout this EP they don't climb above a murmur.  Carefully sampling his own humming, hissing, breathing, Blake has created his most personal record yet.

Its a humble move for a guy on the brink of international success.  One that will no doubt encourage more critics and fans to cozy up to his work.

Download the Klavierwerke EP in its entirety here


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. also, check out his first serious vocal debut (a pretty impressive Fiest cover, of all things)


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