Monday, July 19, 2010

James Blake CYMK EP: Post-Everything

And we're back ... small hiatus from the blog roll while I straighten out some tunes and the rest of my life(!). Thankfully all appears to be on track now and I'm happy to share with you some recent reviews of tunes written for the blog of Brooklyn's finest and most eclectic record shop Halcyon (It's true, I've been creeping, heh). Anyway, here's the first of the three or four I'm going to lay on you folks here in the next week. It's a write up of James Blake's CMYK EP that dropped on R&S Records at the end of May. Though it does contain many of the traits we would associate with the dubstep genre - significantly, operating at the ubiquitous 140 bpm tempo - these qualities are estranged from their origins, inspiring some people to coin the term "post-dubstep" to describe this and other unplaceable sounds. I will leave the exploration of this questionable term to another time, but I will add that in the case of James Blake this seems irrelevant as his music is post a lot of other things besides dubstep. Lastly, its important to note that the audio quality of the youtube video I've added doesn't do the massive sub-bass and crackling drums justice whatsoever and if you want to hear the real thing you should head over to halcyon for the vinyl or cop the digital copy here.

James Blake continues his odd explorations of R&B injected garage (or vice versa) on the eclectic R&S label with the CMYK EP. Considerably more grounded in 140 stepper drum patterns than his Hessle Audio release, the four tracks on this EP all bear Blake’s signature use of half-intelligible chopped vocals with some or no titular relevance. Starting out with melancholy piano droplets and it’s delightfully awkward vocal patchwork. CMYK is the winning number of this exquisite collection of tunes.

Swelling with static, the intro lurches into one of the busier tracks on the EP, alternately exchanging swung garage hi-hats for the staccato rhythms of southern rap. Footnotes bristles with static as well as piercing woodblock and talk-box murmuring reminiscent of Darkstar’s Squeeze My Lime. Blake adds in rolling kick drums, pulsating bass and a fake ending to this up-tempo hybrid stepper. I’ll Stay is a sparse hammering number with crackling drums and echo-drenched outro. High-pitch 808 toms, and orchestral stabs form the background for the interplay of female/male vox snippets. Postpone follows with a similar walking bass line and keyboards to that found on his Air & The Lack Thereof. The drums heard here are again sporadic; adding just the right amount of inventive layering of acoustic and analogue elements. This is a sonically versatile and surprising release that should appeal to both fans of Hyperdub weirdness and Todd Edwards’ vocal driven steppers.

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  1. this is nice almost feels like flying lotus type, but at 140

  2. def feelin it too... its really subtle without being too minimal... really hard to do shit like this without sounding corny... much respect...