First, some confessions: I don’t usually listen to dubstep. To be completely honest, I don’t really know what dubstep is. Many of you probably know a lot more about James Blake – and whether or not the music he makes is dubstep – than I. I’d probably just call it pop music. Personally, it reminds me of Imogen Heap, with it’s gratuitous Auto-Tuned self-harmonizing (especially on songs like “Lindisfarne I” and “I Never Learnt to Share”); I mean that in that in a very good way.
I’ve sat on James Blake’s debut album for a while, but I’m just starting to appreciate it now. As someone with no familiarity with dubstep, James Blake’s record sounds completely fresh and new to me – the stuttering beats, the complex synth tones and sounds, and the simplicity of the songwriting. The album opens with some mellow chords and a sound effect that I can only describe as the lighting of a blowtorch, literally sparking the album. This opening track, “Unluck,” consists of about two lines of lyrics repeated ad nauseam, but the musical development makes it a really exciting composition and a great introduction to the larger musical concepts developed throughout the record.
The album’s penultimate track, “I Mind,” has even less songwriting and even more interesting sounds. While the melody is fairly stagnant (nearly nonexistent), the changes in timbre and texture make this song unlike anything else in pop music, which is usually so reliant on melody (and ignorant of all other musical elements). For its emphasis on these oft-overlooked musical components, James Blake’s self-titled debut LP is the greatest breath of fresh air I’ve gotten from a new pop album in a long time.
Enjoy the chameleonic sonic landscapes of “I Mind.”