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James Blake – CMYK EP review

“CMYK” has been Nick Grimshaw’s ‘record of the week’, it’s made James Blake’s Spotify debut, and has also led to the 22-year old London based producer appearing on Gilles Peterson’s radio show as well as featuring in The Guardian’s ‘New Band Of The Day’ slot. Not bad going. Appearing on legendary techno label R&S, the release follows on from James Blake’s debut 12” Air And Lack Thereof which dropped on Hemlock Recordings in 2009, The Bells Sketch EP on Hessle Audio a couple of months back and some high profile remixes on labels like Scuba’s Hotflush Recordings. Blake’s reputation as a producer has been predominantly built on his unrivalled fresh, innovative approach to electronic music, incorporating sampling and overtly soulful overtones, around the 140bpm mark.

The EP sees Blake sampling 90s R&B divas Kelis and Aaliyah in the title track, whose plaintive vocals are neatly chopped, diced and blended into a wider landscape of sonic textures, leftfield beats and dubstep tempos. It’s all executed with a smooth, polished finish, which marks it out as a future anthem, much like Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” was for future garage last year. “Footnotes”, up next, tunes into some distinctly futuristic vibes, with weird vocodered, fuzzy samples playing havoc with some delicate yet jumpy beats, before moving into a calmer second half with a more pared down, relaxed tone. “I’ll Stay” returns to the chopped up glitchy, soul drenched vocal sound of “CMYK”, with a warm glow glimmering softly beneath. “Postpone” concludes the EP, fusing Blake’s own distorted vocals with hissing atmospherics, a rather detached thumping beat and a sonorous, choral element. All in all, it’s a beautiful EP, which needs to be beheld to be believed – absolutely outstanding.

Review: Belinda Rowse