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Debut album from the fast-rising young musician & producer who was featured in our artists to watch list last month and came second in the BBC’s Sound Of 2011 poll.
In some ways James Blake’s debut album is a bit of an odd proposition. During the course of 2010 Blake shot to acclaim in UK dance music circles thanks to a string of accomplished and impressive dubstep-influenced electronic singles.
Yet this first full length - most of which was written well before any of his previous releases - sees him eschew dance beats and sampled vocals in favour of piano-led, singer-songwriter territory.
But while the LP is dominated by Blake’s (undeniably strong) singing voice, it’s still his abilities as a producer that shine through and impress most. Throughout he underpins his songs with brooding basslines and minimal drum parts that still betray the influence Blake takes from dubstep.
His previously released Feist cover, Limit To Your Love, is easily the albums most accessible song. But it’s some of the less immediate tracks like The Wilhelm Scream and Lindesfarne I & II that stand-out for their minimal, drone-like synth parts and processed vocals.
Blake’s vocals, both in terms of lyrics and abrasive production, are likely to divide opinion. But however you look at it James Blake has certainly marked himself out as one of the UK’s most interesting and exciting young artists and has produced an album that is definitely an essential listen.