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James Blake CD

3.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Feb. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Atlas / A&M
  • ASIN: B004CR5TD0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,170 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Debut studio album by the British dubstep producer. Blake came second in the BBC's 'Sound of 2011' shortlist and was expected to achieve big things in the UK in 2011. The album includes the singles 'Limit to Your Love' and 'The Wilhelm Scream'.

BBC Review

Since James Blake’s breakout remix of Untold’s Stop What You’re Doing in late 2009 – which saw him twist up the original with beats taken beyond the pale – he’s pushed his artistic limits beyond recognition. A blinding 12-month period saw him birth three groundbreaking EPs (The Bells Sketch, CMYK and Klavierwerke), drawing on electronic music, UK bass, commercial RnB, gospel and ambient. And then there was his stunning cover of Feist’s Limit to Your Love, by all standards his most accessible song to date – if you take its rib-crushing sub-bass away from the delicate piano-and-vocal foray at the helm.

On his long-awaited debut album, Blake moves his informed, excited mastery into yet another sphere; instead of manipulating tension through a library of beats, he now mostly draws on silence and vocal treatment. Take The Wilhelm Scream, where Blake’s jittery, double-tracked vocals are forever trying to catch up with the beat. The gaps make the song’s climax all the more of a spectacle.

Not all of this album’s silences, however, are build-ups to breakdowns. The tension of Unluck’s initial yearning and snappy beats become buried low down in the mix by the end, instead of crashing and burning. I Never Learnt to Share is similar, becoming more dissonant and riled as it unfolds before bursting and then coming up again, struggling for air. To Care (Like You) follows a similar non-format, starting with an untreated vocal before morphing into something equally bleak but entirely robotic, stone-cold. There’s no time for luring the listener in to a false sense of comfort, except on the gospel-influenced Measurements, the most familiar-sounding song here.

This 22-year-old Londoner certainly isn’t shy of ambition, and but that’s not to say this album is without its failings; Lindesfarne I and II, a universe away from the swagger and uppers of CMYK’s top line and sub-bass, are a step behind. The compressed silences and formlessly spacious sounds are overwhelming through headphones for baser reasons. Give Me My Month similarly adds little, working only as an interlude.

Aside from the hype, this album is by no means a feasible breakthrough into the mainstream – there’s not stride enough for that. But when it’s at its best, it’s boundary-breaking – and Blake is indeed a rare specimen, with many faces, each obscured. Each playback draws the listener in closer towards to the record’s core, like a dimmer switch being raised incrementally – a true beauty to behold.

--Natalie Shaw

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Living in a time where the music consumer can comfortably access and listen to any artist he or she chooses, past or present, I think there's an onus like no other on this generation of new artists to produce music that's truly distinctive. Whether James Blake conciously understands this or not is debatable, however the uniqueness of his self titled debut is certainly not up for questioning. The computerized experimentalism of Blake's highly acclaimed slew of 2010 ep's, already saw him crafting a unique lane for himself yet he upped the anti on this eponymous release by moving away from the laptop somewhat, to present his elegiac choir-esque singing voice as the main selling point here. Not since Kid A has an artist been able to match emotive balladeering and forward thinking electronica as successsfully as James Blake does here, his songs each one brilliant in their own right, are equal parts challenging and emotionally provocative.

The soulful sound of Blakes ineffable vocals were heard permeating over spartan piano chords and glacial snare snaps when his version of Feist's "Limit To Your Love" dropped before the release of this album and I (perhaps like many) thought that the excellence of that track would dwarf any songs that sat beside it on a full length LP. "Unluck" quickly sweeps away any pessismistic doubts you may of had, with it's enchanting array of quicksilver clicks, mmanipulated synths and multi layered vocals coming together to mesmerizing effect. Although James Blake uses vocoder and autotune in this opener, the humanity in "Unluck" somehow remains completely intact, it's as though JB has unlocked the dormant power lieing in machines to enhance our voice's ability to convey sadness and despondancy.
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Format: Audio CD
I love it when reviews vary. Two days old, and it's already either 'hugely disappointing' or 'a brilliant debut'. I'm with the latter on this. I think this album is a gem.

I became aware of James Blake through Klavierwerke, which kind of insinuated itself into my consciousness. Not this. It's been absolutely instant, and I can't stop listening to it.

The overall sound is tremendous - in the same territory perhaps as Burial's Untrue. Blake's voice evokes, when untreated, Antony Hegarty, Justin Vernon, and of course Al Green. Simple phrases are repeated, heightening their impact, and the tunes are delicately accompanied by a range of keyboards, from smoky blues piano to electronica which, through their faltering, sometimes almost sobbing sounds, heighten the emotion even further. Styles range from heartbreaking soul to uplifting gospel. And there's even a hint of prog rock about the keyboards: some Nice piano noodling, some ELP synth squealings. Bizarre and intriguing.

Listening to this album is, for me, a raw and intense experience. Even the quiet bits. It's like eavesdropping on someone's innermost thoughts; hopes, fears, doubts, weaknesses. Picking up on misunderstandings and broken relationships. Yet it is so beautiful, so self aware, so laden with love, how could everything not turn out ok in the end?

TWO WEEKS LATER

The review situation is still fascinating. Those who low star it can be broken down into two types. 1. Those who have heard his previous dubstep material and are disappointed by this more soul-based album. 2. Those who like Limit to Your Love and/or The Wilhelm Scream and are disappointed it isn't all like that.

For me, the album just gets better and better.
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Format: Audio CD
Released to much hype at the time, and in the process of being nominated for a Mercury prize, Blake's eponymous debut is his signature sound distilled to its absolute essence, in a collection of ambient, melancholy dubstep far removed from more commercial exponents of the genre such as Skream or Caspa. Though they mainly use rather different musical palates to express themselves, the mood of the album tends toward the isolationist, introspective 2-step of enigmatic producer Burial, himself nominated for a Mercury in 2007.

Stripping down the music even further from the already sparse textures of his CMYK and Klavierwerke EPs, most of the tracks are built on pianos set alongside soft ambient loops, undercut by the distinctive half-time drumbeat that the genre is well known for. However, tracks like 'Lindisfarne I' take this minimalist approach to the extreme, relying almost entirely on Blake's layered and treated vocals - a gambit that's not entirely successful when combined with oft-meandering song structures and vague lyrics bordering on the equivocal. Too frequently, as on album closer 'Measurements', or the aimless cut-up 'Why Don't You Call Me', the songs lose their sense of direction and grounding, simply being content to drift, albeit pleasantly, to understated conclusions.

Despite these compositional flaws, when Blake works within more song-oriented strictures, his somewhat unique sound can reap stunning results. On the Feist cover 'Limit To Your Love', nimble piano riffs and an untreated, cracked vocal combine to subtle yet devastating effect, before dropping out to be replaced with shuddering sub-bass and metronomic drums, only Blake's isolated, lonely vocals remaining.
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Dubstep this is not. 3 9 Dec 2011
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