Tuesday, 20 April 2010

James Blake

With a lack of releases on my radar this week, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to James Blake if you haven't already heard of him. Blake is 21 year old producer from London, and is currently in his final year of studying Contemporary Music at Goldsmiths University. His music is wonderfully unique, a post-dubstep sound which infuses elements of soul funk and bass.

As a kid, Blake played the piano and would sing along to classical music, which is where his musical development began. However after moving to university, where he discovered dubstep, his musical focus moved in other directions, leading up to his creative and challenging releases of the past few months. His music is normally very slow and bass heavy, with Blake contributing all his own vocals in the tracks but distorting them for a slowed effect in order for them to match the pacing of the tracks.

Blake currently has two solo releases to his name, one on Untold's 'Hemlock Recordings', and the other on Ben UFO and Ramadanman's 'Hessle Audio' record label. The first of these is my favourite material of his, the 'Air And Lack Thereof' EP. This included the tracks 'Air And Lack Thereof' and 'Sparing The Horses', which is rumoured to have been so admired by Ramadanman that he wheeled up the track four times during one of his DJ sets in New York. His second EP 'The Bells Sketch' was released on 8th March, and is to a certain extent even more experimental than his first releases. These tracks have a seemingly slower tempo, and the jazz and soul influences on his work shine through more clearly in this EP than the previous. These EP's are weird and off-key, but so brilliantly inventive and intriguing that I can't help but love them. I have played them to a few people, and reactions have been very mixed, I think this is a sound you'll either love or hate.

As well as his solo work, Blake has also released a couple of remixes and undertaken a collaboration. His first remix was his reworking on Untold's 'Stop What You're Doing', which brilliantly follows the type of sound established by his 'Air And Lack Thereof' EP. This week his remix of Mount Kimbie's 'Maybes', which featured on Scuba's 'Substance' mix, was released on the Mount Kimbie's remixes EP which is now available for download and includes FaltyDL's amazing remix of 'Serged'. His collaborative work has come alongside a similarly experimental artist in Airhead. Together they managed to release the 'Pembroke' EP in March, which includes the tracks 'Pembroke' and 'Lock In The Lion', and creates similar sounds to those found on Blake's 'The Bells Sketch' EP.

There are great things ahead for Blake in my opinion, and he has a number of new releases on the way very soon. His upcoming release sounds very promising, described as an 'R&B sampling EP' which will be released on the R&S label next month. Blake has revealed already that this EP will exclude his own vocals, and rather sample the like of Aaliyah, Brandy and R-Kelly. This is something I very much look forward to, and I'll keep you posted on the details of it's release.

For more information on Blake's live dates and upcoming releases, check out his myspace page which is http://www.myspace.com/jamesblakeproduction. On a final note, my friend Dave wrote a brilliant article on the evolution that is currently taking place on the dubstep scene, one which Blake is no doubt a part of. It's a great read, so make sure you take a look at http://goldenstatic.blogspot.com/.

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