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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Blake - Once in a Generation Phenomenon, Aug. 29 2011
By 
Richard S. Warner "Saraswati-Son" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: James Blake (Audio CD)
I've been listening, seriously, to music for a few decades now. I am a rabid, inveterate fan of the NEW and the GROUND-BREAKING. The Cutting Edge was always my passion and I sought out material that made most of my friends, starting in High School, think that I had serious mental problems. My discoveries and revelations, either by synchronicity, luck or the blessed introduction to something new and wonderful by a friend led me into multi-universes of several different artists, styles, aesthetics and generations. From Gyorgy Ligeti, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Tangerine Dream, Gong, The Residents, Talking Heads, Lene Lovich, Bjork, Philip Glass - to - Morton Feldman, Terry Riley, Japan, David Sylvian, Shriekback, MGMT, Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Underwold, System 7, The Orb, Massive Attack, Paul Schutze, Klaus Schulze and Dead Can Dance, all of these artists I caught early in their careers only to see them rise to varying heights of influence and achievement. In each case though, great artistic achievement was theirs and it stayed with them. It was extremely rewarding to watch these 'cult' favourites first appear and then gradually filter their way into the culture. It was exciting and that kind of discovery still drives me forward in search of really credible and exciting new artists.

James Blake, is, without a hair of doubt, one of the most exciting "new" artists I've ever come across.

Think prodigy, as in child prodigy. Not that he's a child, but his relatively young age boggles when you hear this debut album of his. There is SO much talent here it's staggering. Blake is one of those extraordinary phenomena that appears only very rarely - a bona fide genius whose DNA itself radiants originality and genius. This is the kind of phenomenon that convinces me that there's something behind the notion of re-incarnation, of coming into this life loaded up with what you were working on before. Following that tack, one would assume that Blake has been working on his musical, lyrical and vocal chops for a few times on the planet. Big words.

His music is entirely unique and where material like this can often sound stunningly fresh at first and never venture beyond a simplistic stylistic quirk, Blake proves that he has wellsprings of originality churning away beneath his fascinating surface. The material is 'minimal' in it's decoration, kept pared down to bare essentials and yet it is beautifully rich in nuance and gob-smacking invention. This sparsity gives him the framework he needs to showcase his extraordinary singing talents. And he doesn't sing like anyone else either! His voice goes from clear radiant tenor to a dark, woody baritone with ease and hair-raising skill. His vocal style is very 'black', in that he sings with a very strong 'Gospel" inflection and feeling. He even SOUNDS black. Contrasted to the spartan and eerie electronics, it makes for arresting and head-shaking listening. So not only is he a great composer and a highly accomplished singer, he's a very talented user of electronic media, a compelling lyricist AND a totally unique and skillful stylist. Phew!

This is art music, recorded at home. Not a single drop of the 'commerical' shows itself here, even though he's signed to A&M/Universal. This is late night, eerie, thought-provoking stuff - moody, darkly radiant, introspective and highly intelligent. His music is blessed with form and invention that is qenuine and unlike anything you've ever heard. The lyrics are striking in their rich simplicity. In fact, two of his songs consist of one single line only, one of which "I Never Learnt to Share" repeats the line "My brother and sister don't speak to me, but I don't blame them". The repetition of "I don't blame them" is full of a twisted angst, sung with the vocal equivalent of the way his portrait shots are all distorted. Blake showcases a fantastic technique here in how he's placed the background vocals - he sings them, but NOT in time with the rest of the music! His background vocals phase in and out of time with the lead voice, disorienting the listener and creating a 'blur' that is both aurically and psychologically disturbing. One gets the impression from this song especially and from the others that here is a young mind that is highly gifted and utterly misunderstood. I can see him playing in smaller, older, darker clubs to a small coterie of freaks, artists and fringey types as well as older literati and lovers of the avant garde. The young can identify with him, the middle-aged and even the older can recognize the REAL deal in this guy. Not in numbers but with his creative output so far and the swelling underground praise that is on the rise for him, I'd say Blake has already achieved a serious degree of success. I hope it stays as pure as it is now!

Category? Try to find one that fits.

This guy is out there all on his own and he writes and performs fully cognizant of that fact. I think he even celebrates it. I would venture as far as to believe that he LIVES his music. The great danger now is will he believe all the praise that's being written about him and become self-conscious, or worse - arrogant, or does he have the inner, personal wherewithall to keep centred and unaffected by opinion? Time will tell. B R I L L I A N T DEBUT !!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is good!, March 6 2014
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This review is from: James Blake (Audio CD)
I didn't know this artist but I went and listen a bit of what he did and loved what I heard. Simple, calm, beautiful ....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great album!, April 11 2013
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This review is from: James Blake (Vinyl) (LP Record)
Really hard to describe this album but it is amazing. Blake has an amazing voice and clearly knows how and when to manipulate it using effects. The mix between the incredibly well shaped electro and analog instruments is perfect and will please anyone. I love every track and I highly recommend the album on vinyl.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars audacious young talent, March 27 2011
By 
Edo Deweert (rimbey, alberta, canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: James Blake (Audio CD)
james blake, at 23, has an uncanny understanding of musical composition as well as a thirst for going out there with a sound that is so new, so accomplished and so audacious, that it brings tears to your eyes.
this is new generation ("nouvelle vague", they would say in france) but it's not pop, not screaming metallica, not empty.....this is neo-classical for a listenership that is from 15 to 95.
above all, it drips with esoteric creativeness and a devil-may-care attitude (i know i can make music and i do not care if it may not be mainstream)....by jove, mainstream it is not.
at 67 i may not be around to see this man's musical career fully blossoming...pity.
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