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James Blake – The Bells Sketch EP

Artist: James Blake
Title: The Bells Sketch
Label: Hessle Audio
Genre: Dubstep/Grime
Format: 12″, Digital
Buy From: Juno Records, Juno Download

21 year old south London producer James Blake certainly turned many heads in 2009 with one of the strangest yet most beautiful remixes of the Bass world with his rendering of Untold’s “Stop What You’re Doing”, championed by the likes of Mary Ann Hobbs and Gilles Peterson.  Incredibly, this came from a man with only one solo release to his name, the dubstep-heavy “Air and Lack Thereof” on Hemlock Recordings. Blake, also a live singer with the group Mount Kimbie, is building on the momentum of last year with his new release on Hessle Audio, the label run by Ramadanman, Ben UFO, and Pangaea.

James Blake’s combined use of his own warbled, pitch shifted vocals and freaky, manic synths conjure up aural images of a Burial-Joker hybrid wonderkid.  On “The Bells Sketch”, Blake’s eerie bent vocals unfold over backwards sounding synths and flickering cricket-like sounds that all collapse together over slow, throbbing thumps. On “Give a Man a Rod”, Blake mutates his voice even more (if possible) over serene rolling beats with more space in between.  Meanwhile “Buzzard and Kestral” starts with snare hits that give way to harmonic yet disjointed sounds of voice and keys that playfully keep you listening for new sounds every time you play it.  In fact, every time you listen to this whole EP, you’ll notice something interestingly different—quite a feat in the increasingly crowded world of bass.

Review: Steve Phillips