If Burial and Imogen Heap procreated, James Blake would be their offspring. James Blake is a musician from London, England. His new self-titled album James Blake was released last month and contains 11 songs — 12 if purchased on iTunes. It’s the kind of album that has tunes about falling in love and falling apart without getting mushy or mean. Blake’s sound is classified as dubstep or UK garage, a genre of electronic dance music considered to be a descendent of house music and classified by its harsh bass tones.
Blake has a raspy and calming voice that will soothe any listeners’ ears. While most artists use auto tune because their voices are weak, Blake proves that his is extraordinary with and without it. He uses autotune as a tool to manipulate his voice like an instrument, whereas most artists use it to enhance their voices. With autotune, his voice does not sound completely unnatural. Like most dubstep artists, he uses a heavy bass sound. Blake incorporates elements of dubstep, but does not forget about his piano-based roots.
It’s impossible to label Blake as one type of genre because his sound is constantly changing — he’s open to experimenting with everything. His music is soulful. Something refreshing about Blake is that he is clearly in this for the music, not the fame, fortune or the fans. He’s all about the music.
From the first song “Unluck” to the fifth song “Lindisfarne II”, the tracks are slow and rolling, but catchy. There are also snippets of keyboards with soft, clicking beats that make a psychedelic thud. The seventh track, “Limit To Your Love”, definitely stands out the most on the album. Not only does it consist of Blake’s usual techno beats and pitch shifting, but listeners will be happily surprised with the beautiful piano accompaniment. A few other songs that follow it also change up the sound by using the piano.
“I Mind”, the tenth track, includes several strange and outrageous sounds. The final track, “Measurements” is a wonderful finale for the album. Here, Blake’s voice is overpowering, but in a positive way and he sings high and low ranges that will echo in the listener’s head.
James Blake has the perfect balance of smooth and techno sounds. It is a tranquil album that can be listened to in a variety of situations and moods. Listeners can be happy, sad, or anything in-between and will feel comforted.
James Blake, artist and album, truly is one of a kind.