Release Date: Dec 12, 2011
Record label: R&S
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
James Blake was such a central figure in the 2011 conversation that many folks lost sight of just how weird the London poly-wunderkind's indelible self-titled debut was and still is, especially as a breakthrough document of underground pop. However, for those attuned to the ever-changing trends of the UK bass music scene-- specifically, listeners dazzled by Blake's phenomenal triptych of 2010 EPs, The Bells Sketch, CMYK, and Klavierwerke-- James Blake's reliance on piano-based singer/songwriter electro-soul perhaps played it a bit too safe, prompting comparisons to the once-outré, now-gear spinning career of fellow avant-crooner Jamie Lidell. Despite a few fascinating B-sides and a particularly challenging double dose of dub released on the reliable bass label Hemlock, this fall's underwhelming Enough Thunder EP didn't do much to quiet the "supper club" cries.
RESPECT. Rodney Dangerfield couldn’t get none. And it certainly meant a lot to Aretha Franklin. But James Blake doesn’t have any: not for pop music’s rules, not for pure, unadulterated tone, not for the concept of genre, not for the role vocals have typically played in contemporary music, and certainly not for dubstep proper, whatever that even means anymore.
James BlakeLove What Happened Here EP[R&S; 2011]By Rob Hakimian; December 8, 2011Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt’s rare that you find excitement or interest around a three track release on a relatively obscure independent label, but such is the prolificness and popularity of James Blake. Here we are with Blake’s third notable release of the year, Love What Happened Here, and a return to R&S Records who put out his pre-LP material. Fans are probably hoping that this brief flip back over to R&S will yield more ambient or two-step dub music, akin to that which he has released previously on the label.
Review Summary: James Blake rounds out a whirlwind year with a much more muted statement, a slightly disjointed but still compelling listen that pays tribute to a tired ghost long since laid to restWho is James Blake, if not the most enigmatic man in music right now? And more importantly, is this a question that James Blake himself can even answer truthfully? To perpetuate a stereotype, he’s become the archetypal definition of logical progression. But that progression hasn’t been one simply shaping the identity of the artist; no, every variation on the same distinguished sound that he’s found himself attached too (even if, from a distance) has been more than just a refinement of his process. His artful dubstep advocacy gave way to more bare-boned soul peeled thin over the empty silence of dying bass music, but being more than just passing fascinations he crafted each release into a defining statement for each and all.
James Blake’s eponymous debut wouldn’t have disabused you of the notion that beatlessness meant formlessness or, worse, spinelessness, for the arty dubstep producer – if you never bothered to give it much of a chance, anyway. But a form and a spine he indeed has, and the beats on his latest EP, Love What Happened Here, set out to prove that. Back are the chopped up voices of his earlier EPs, somehow no less moving than the bare-bones crooning of James Blake.