James Blake – James Blake

11 Feb

Hello. I'm a massive bell-end.

Okay, so as with Ellie Goulding I did my research on Mr Blake before checking out the album. Not really won over by anything but felt there maybe was something to a few of the demos. I think the BBC have gotten a bit carried away.

Unluck

Interesting. It’s like a remix of an existing song where the remixer’s idea is to put abstract noises in. Very experimental so far. Maybe not in a bad way – just not in a “WOW!” way. Can’t find any verses or choruses here… Oh wait, that was the song over? Hopefully that was just a weird intro.

Wilhelms Scream

It would appear that it started as it means to go on. This could be the same song. It’s like Radiohead on Kid A without any melody or rhythm. Like the bit you get after a song is finishing after its crescendo and this is the section that fades out, and if you listened carefully enough you may catch your favourite artist cough or laugh or something before it disappears. Bit of beat came in. May have been hearing my own pulse though.

I Never Learnt To Share

Very Antony & the Johnsons this. Except if you got someone with cerebral palsy to manually control the mixing desk. His voice is lovely though. All it needs is a reason to have been recorded. Hang on, bit of a sound coming in – nah, just thin notes mind. Are we getting somewhere? … Nope. Really now. This is poor. Finally a bargain bucket bass drum from yesteryear comes in with a bit of that dubby sound everyone’s been raving on about. Joke really, nothing to it. The Wurzels have better beats.

Lindesfarne I

I can honestly say that the millisecond it took to click Play was more enthralling than everything I have heard so far.

Oh, now you’re taking the piss. Is this someone pretending to be a cyberman for 3 minutes? I believe it is, yes.

Lindesfarne II

Holy cunts. This is the exact same song from before except with instrumentation. And by instrumentation I mean like someone eating ball bearings and then pissing on a drumkit. If I gave a 2 year old a voice pedal and recorded the stuff they did it would genuinely be better. I have not enjoyed a single moment of this. Not even the silence.

Limit To Your Love

OMG. Music. Yes, this was what I was expecting. When a song you think was “okay” is the best thing on the album so far you know his career is fucked. Still desperately average and unremarkable. Also, where are the underground production influences I was promised?

Give Me My Month

More piano at least. Yay! An instrument. It’s Antony & the Johnsons trapped in a toilet roll – the sound is so padded and cold. Like a rape victim choking on the plastic bag that’s suffocating them.

To Care (Like You)

This might be the best thing on the album. It’s a lot more raggedy and nastily cut together. Female singer counters his voice nicely. Could be good – or could be cos everything else has been so bad. That kinda false shit happened when I tried to review all of Eurovision, remember?

Why Don’t You Call Me

Why aren’t I asleep/dead yet?

I Mind

Ooh, again. This I quite like. We get a beat and rhythm for a minute or so then it starts to die a long whimpering death and even when the beat comes back I’ve lost interest. Yeah, scrap what I said. This one is like the return of the slave trade. Punishing.

Measurements

Vocally bland. Emotionally blank. I’ve sung better songs on the toilet… I’ve sung better songs into the toilet.

Summary

Well, what can I say to that? In a nutshell, it’s the sound of someone prolapsing at 20bpm for 38 minutes.

Since there are no songs maybe there’ll be some great remixes. I’ve never been left so passive while listening to an album. I wonder if it would improve if instead of having it in 320kbps I recoded it in 4kbps? Might sound more grainy and “underground” then. I’m going to go listen to Animal Collective now to see if this album beats it to worst thing that has ever received “critical acclaim”.

It’s as if someone gave a record deal to a tannoy announcer at the airport. Not a single moment peaks for me. I’m all for experimental but if you don’t have a song you need melody or dynamics. This has neither. And although I was expecting there to be no melody I was really hoping it would be built on peaks and troughs dynamically. As it isn’t, nothing moves me here.

Surely a contender for most boring thing in music? I know the crown is on Leona Lewis or Ellie Goulding but there are parallels with the latter. At least Goulding worked with a producer who added some OOOMPF to her sound. Otherwise – let’s face it – she’d just be another Dido. I’m sure if we got Keane or James Blunt to work with Goulding’s producer they’d not be thought of as so boring. Crap, of course. But not boring. And there’s the pitfall Mr Blake fell into – crap and boring.

I mean I enjoy experimental stuff. I like drone. I like minimalist ambience and carefully whispered beats. Fuck, I actually like dubstep! So fucking cock-ends from the Guardian shouting about this being post-dubstep  and a “masterpiece” suggest they don’t know what they’re talking about. And as George Monbiot writes for them let’s assume they don’t (obvious troll is obvious).

But is this music? Is it supposed to be, I mean? I’m happy for this to exist. Just don’t be calling it bold and daring when it’s a massive failure of composition. It certainly ain’t something people will be listening to en masse in 2011. For those folk who’ll say things like “you just don’t understand – he’s underground! He’s experimental.”; to that I say “WASTE YOUR LIFE SOME OTHER WAY, FANNY BAWS”. Besides, if he wanted to be experimental surely he should have just made it 1 track and 38 mins long?

Conclusion: If someone busked these songs they would fucking starve.

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10 Responses to “James Blake – James Blake”

  1. TLD March 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Very, very glad that there is someone who can voice my precise opinion about this guy. If his being ‘daring’ was managing to make people like his brand of bland, not ambient, subjective, not real, music, then I think he has succeeded. His lyrics and composition are average at the best of times. Not one moment where I got that tingle in my spine that says ‘this is a good song’. Kudos, blogger.

  2. CAW March 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more. After reading a ton about this guy (whose voice is very good) I listened to the album online. The music left me so bored and nonplussed that I literally had to check to see if I was really listening to the right guy (since he has such a generic name).

    The emperor truly has no clothes with this one.

  3. Luke Jones April 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I like your review and understand why you’re negative about it but I still disagree with you. I hated this album at first. I absolutely despised it, then I listened to it properly. I’m not sure whether James Blake intended the album to be empty, but it’s emptiness really applies to how I’m feeling sometimes, and is great to listen to in solitude with a pair of earphones on. The fact that it sounds like something else should be there is what makes it interesting.

    But, that’s just me. Music is all about taste and obviously everything I’m saying is subjective, all I’m saying is this: listen to this album when you’re in the right mood and you’ll love it. Listen to it expecting a masterpiece and you’ll hate it.

    • ghostsmut April 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      Fair enough. I have listened to it a dozen times now and it gets worse and more excruciating with each listen. Like a ghost re-living it’s death over and over. Even songs I previously thought had something in them are revealed to be shallow and empty chamber pots. It’s interesting that you have gone the other way and like it now – that’s cool. As you say, it’s very subjective and, you’re right, maybe in a different mood I’d feel more kinder towards it. But for now we just have to disagree, mate.

  4. camden June 21, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    That’s the worst review ever, you cannot review the album song-by-song, is that how you listen to music. James Blake himself said that he intend the album to be listen to as a whole, and also on vinyl. I get it you don’t like this type of music, but I love the emptiness of his music, it’s a weird feeling. BTW Unluck are amazing, but my fave are To Care (Like You).

    • ghostsmut June 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      Song by song? You probably can’t hear it as you have Blake’s AID’s filth clogging up your eardrums but the whole album is one horrific squeal of self-indulgence. It is only one track long and all of it is a bum plague.

      • the Blank August 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

        it is quiet headphone music, no real excuse for public presentation, and when listening to this album you have to take into account 3 things –
        1. It was produced while blake was in university, so at any rate this was experimental, at most.
        2. Mr Blake isnt particularly fond of his own music, and amongst his somewhat clumsy arrangements, he does develop some rather catchy rythms…which he then for some unknown reason drowns in dissortions.
        3. it is one of the most sold albums of 2010-2011 so it cant be all that bad.
        and your excruciatingly immature and seemingly norrow minded perception of things makes me cringe. For instance ‘Holy cunts’??! was there any need for that?

  5. Jesus November 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    What is the Missy Song that influences Jessie in Who’s Laughing Now?

  6. DOS August 11, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    I can’t make you like this album but I can tell that I’m not totally agree that this is trash. He probably isn’t a great composer I think James Blake is a great sound designer and a great singer. Also he’s is approaching a more interesting kind of harmony that is not new but no body use it in pop music. The proof that this guy and this album have a huge emotional content is because I saw a lot of people been captured from the first time with out knowing who is James Blake. But also I saw people hearing the album and feel wear and bad and this is the same people that hear “american pop music”. So my point is not that a lot of people like it, my point is that a lot of people feel something in their brains that they like it or not but it occurs and It can sound a bit unproduced but I tell you is not easy to incorporate too many elements from different genres, music studies, instruments and vocals and make it work in to a commercial public.

  7. David October 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    James Bake may be a terribly nice chap but ,he does not make music ,he is not a great singer, nor a mesmerising musician. His work is about something I suppose but it ‘aint music.
    Lorde represents modern music with intelligent observational lyrics , and a fantastic sound , and yet she is only 16/17years old!
    James Blake’s award is a joke and only illustrates what low standards people have today in accepting virtually any old crap in so many genres of so called ‘art’. Pit today’s so called ‘talent’ up against the last 50/60 even 70 years worth of popular culture to see that nearly all(there are a few worthy exceptions) pale into insignificance by comparison.

    James Blake or LOU REED. I rest my case m’lord.

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