Monday, 21 March 2011
This is an album built around contrasts, in turn minimalistic then complex. Current single "The Wilhelm Scream" a prime example as the track builds from it's inconspicuous opening to an almost overbearing intensity. "Measurements" opening with Blake's single plaintive voice until joined by innumerable layered vocals. Although the songs are lyrically simplistic the over riding theme is quality not quantity. "I Never Learnt To Share" with the repetition of a single line "My brother and my sister don't speak to me, but I don't blame them," saying nothing, but everything without the necessity for enhancement. Almost as if Blake is allowing an insight into his world, yet not extending a full invitation, just a gap in the curtains, rather than a front door flung open wide.
While I fully appreciate the invention and requirement to investigate sounds and structures, "Lindisfarne I" and "Lindisfarne II" almost appear a waste as the excessive use of the vocoder mask Blake's voice, probably the most distinct and breathtaking sound on the album. It's similar to inviting John Frusciante along, then handing him a triangle requesting he leaves his guitar in it's case. A minor quibble however, as ultimately this is a magnificent piece of work by an artist prepared to explore and push musical boundaries.
James Blake has fathomed an important although taxing piece of work, that demands attention to detail rather than listening complacency. A darkened room, headphones and a quality sub woofer are all required to appreciate the true splendour of his debut.