James Blake (album)

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James Blake
Studio album by James Blake
Released 4 February 2011
10 October 2011 (Deluxe Edition)
Recorded 2009-2010
Genre Electronic, post-dubstep, neo soul, R&B, future garage, experimental
Length 38:00 (Standard Edition)
43:07 (Deluxe Edition CD1)
25:31 (Deluxe Edition CD2: Enough Thunder EP)
Label ATLAS, A&M, Polydor
Producer James Blake
James Blake chronology
Klavierwerke
(2010)
James Blake
(2011)
Enough Thunder
(2011)
Singles from James Blake
  1. "Limit to Your Love"
    Released: 25 November 2010
  2. "The Wilhelm Scream"
    Released: 3 March 2011
  3. "Lindisfarne"/"Unluck"
    Released: 16 June 2011[1]
Singles from James Blake (Deluxe Edition)
  1. "Fall Creek Boys Choir"
    Released: 29 August 2011[2]
  2. "A Case of You"
    Released: 19 December 2011[3]
Deluxe Edition

James Blake is the debut studio album by London-based electronic music producer James Blake. It was released in both the United Kingdom and the United States on his own label, ATLAS, supported by A&M Records,[4] on 4 February 2011.[5] The release was supported with the release of its first single, "Limit to Your Love", on 28 November 2010.[6]

The album's details, including artwork and track listing, were announced on 20 December 2010. The album was nominated for the 2011 Mercury Prize.[7]

A deluxe edition was released on 10 October 2011 with different artwork and bundled with a second disc, Blake's new EP Enough Thunder, which was also released separately.

Background[edit]

James Blake builds on the material released by Blake as three EPs in 2010: The Bells Sketch, CMYK and Klavierwerke. All three EPs have differing musical styles.[8] Mike Powell of online music magazine Pitchfork noted it was "amazing" that so much material could be released in such a short period of time.[8] However, despite the amount of music released by Blake in 2010, most of the material on his debut album is completely new.[9]

In interviews about the album, Blake cited fellow Londoners the xx as an influence, telling Clash's Robin Murray their success with debut xx "made it a lot easier for me".[10] He added that the band's acclaim meant listeners "are gonna be a lot less shocked by [this album]".[10]

Blake, speaking to Jo Youle and Mark Savage of the BBC, said that a lot of the vocals on the album were by him, despite relying more heavily on samples in previous work. "There are times when it might seem there's a sample being used, but I've just sampled myself. That's what makes this record special compared to everything [else] I've done."[11]

Before the album's release, Blake was named in both BBC's "Sound of 2011" shortlist, and came second to Jessie J in the running for the BRIT Awards' Critics' Choice Award.[12]

Composition[edit]

Grayson Currin of Pitchfork noted that the album is "composed of tender torch songs, elegiac drifters, and soulful melodies, Blake's first puts him in the rare company of fellow singers-- Thom Yorke, Karin Dreijer, Antony Hegarty, Justin Vernon, Dan Bejar-- who've recently bent their own lavish voices, not samples, to make interesting pop music shaped with electronics".[13] Blake has evidently done this with many tracks on the album.

The album begins with "Unluck", a post-dubstep song with multi-layered vocals (processed through the use of Auto-Tune and vocoders) and distorted synths. The second track, "The Wilhelm Scream" is a cover version of "Where to Turn" by his father, James Litherland.[14] "The Wilhelm Scream" is a minimal techno song with soft synth tones and booming percussion which gradually increases in volume to create a slightly claustrophobic sound.

The third track, "I Never Learnt to Share" is a post-dubstep song with elements of electronic rock and soul music, beginning with repetitive[15] a cappella vocals, then adding in electric guitars and lush keyboards. The song has a very unique bass drop three minutes and forty seconds into the song. This is then followed by the two-part "Lindisfarne". "Lindisfarne I" is entirely a cappella, while "Lindisfarne II" takes these vocals (with some new lines added) and pairs them with acoustic guitar and light percussion. Both parts of the song extensively use vocoders and Auto-Tune.

The album's sixth track, "Limit to Your Love", is a minimalist dubstep cover of the song of the same name by Feist. The song uses only Blake's singing, piano, percussion, and a wobble bassline. This is followed by "Give Me My Month", a short piano ballad, also a minimalist piece.

In the album's eighth track, "To Care (Like You)", Blake pitch shifts, cuts-up, and layers his own vocals and combines them with quiet keyboards and a bass-heavy and very percussive beat. "Why Don't You Call Me" opens with only voice and piano, "played with the studied delicacy of a classical student".[13] Blake then splices up the piano chords and vocals to create unique breaks.

In "I Mind", Blake creates a wobble bass out of "incomprehensible vocal loops", Latin-American rhythms[16] and distorted bass noises. As with the last track, "Why Don't You Call Me", it begins solely with piano and vocals. The album concludes with "Measurements", in which critics noted that Blake's layered vocals sound like a black gospel choir.[13][15] Popmatters also noted that the song contains elements of synthpop.

The deluxe edition of the album, in addition to being packaged with the Enough Thunder EP, adds two new tracks originally exclusive to the vinyl version (and added in the same places as they were on the vinyl album). "Tep and the Logic" is added as track 1 and "You Know Your Youth" is added as track 13.[17] The two are IDM songs with chopped up vocals and light keyboards and piano.

The songs "Why Don't You Call Me" and "You Know Your Youth" include samples of a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" performed and recorded by Blake himself. Another recording of this cover appears on the Enough Thunder EP, which was packaged with the deluxe edition of the album as well as being released separately, but the recording sampled on these tracks remains unreleased.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (81/100)[18]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[19]
Consequence of Sound 5/5 stars[20]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[16]
NME (6/10)[21]
Pitchfork Media (9.0/10)[13]
Popmatters (8/10)[15]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[22]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[23]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 stars[24]
Spin (8/10)[25]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5 stars[26]

James Blake generally received acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 38 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[18] The Observer's Kitty Empire said James Blake is "already one of the most critically anticipated albums of 2011".[27] The album has also been described as "a sort of dubstep Nebraska or Sea Change, a record filled with self-revelation, introspection, and naked humanity."[28] Appearing as their cover star as the new act to watch in 2011, Clash hailed Blake as "The crown prince of the quiet revolution".[29]

Pitchfork Media noted that "while the songs are the magnetic center here, Blake's musicianship and sonics are equally striking."

Pitchfork ranked the album as the 12th best album of 2011 on its list of "The Top 50 Albums of 2011"[30] while Mojo placed the album at number 17[31] and Uncut placed the album at number 21.[32] In Review Online ranked the album number six on their list of "The Top 15 Albums of 2011."[33]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and produced by James Blake except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Unluck"     3:00
2. "The Wilhelm Scream"   James Blake, James Litherland[34] 4:37
3. "I Never Learnt to Share"     4:51
4. "Lindisfarne I"     2:42
5. "Lindisfarne II"   J. Blake, Rob McAndrews 3:01
6. "Limit to Your Love"   Feist, Gonzales 4:36
7. "Give Me My Month"     1:56
8. "To Care (Like You)"     3:52
9. "Why Don't You Call Me"   + 1:35
10. "I Mind"     3:31
11. "Measurements"     4:19
Total length:
38:00

* The Enough Thunder EP was also released separately.

+ "Why Don't You Call Me" and "You Know Your Youth" contain samples of James Blake's cover of "A Case of You", originally by Joni Mitchell.

Personnel[edit]

Credits taken from Discogs.[35][36]

  • James Blake - vocals, instrumentation, producer, songwriter
  • Rob McAndrews - acoustic guitar on "Lindisfarne II" and "Once We All Agree", songwriter on "Lindisfarne II"
  • Miti Adhikari - producer on "A Case of You"
  • George Thomas - engineer on "A Case of You"

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Ireland[53] 4 February 2011 Digital download Polydor
United Kingdom[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lindisfarne / Unluck - Single by James Blake itunes.apple.com/gb/". Itunes.apple.com. 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  2. ^ "Connecting to the iTunes Store". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  3. ^ "Watch the New James Blake Video". Pitchfork. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  4. ^ "James Blake lets slip album release date, possible title". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "iTunes - Music - James Blake by James Blake". Itunes.apple.com. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  6. ^ Ryan Dombal (22 November 2010). "James Blake Announces Debut Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Mercury Prize 2011: The nominees". bbc.co.uk. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Mike Powell (16 December 2010). "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "James Blake's album tracklist and artwork revealed". FACT. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "James Blake Discusses The xx Influence". Clash. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Jo Youle, Mark Savage (6 January 2011). "BBC Sound of 2011: James Blake". BBC. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "James Blake reveals debut album tracklisting". NME. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Pitchfork Media review". 
  14. ^ James Blake Re-Conquers The BBC, Covers His Dad and Joni Mitchell | The FADER
  15. ^ a b c "Popmatters review". 
  16. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (4 February 2011). "The Guardian review". London. 
  17. ^ iTunes - Music - James Blake by James Blake
  18. ^ a b "''James Blake'' Reviews, Ratings, Credits and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  19. ^ "Allmusic review". 
  20. ^ "Consequence of Sound review". 
  21. ^ "NME review". 
  22. ^ "Rolling Stone review". 
  23. ^ "Slant Magazine review". 
  24. ^ "Sputnikmusic review". 
  25. ^ "Spin review". 
  26. ^ "Tiny Mix Tapes review". 
  27. ^ Empire, Kitty (12 December 2010). "James Blake – review". The Observer (London). Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  28. ^ "The Artist as a Young Man: A Review of James Blake". 
  29. ^ "Ones To Watch 2011 - James Blake Interview". Clash (magazine). Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  30. ^ Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2011 | Features | Pitchfork
  31. ^ "MOJO's Top 50 Albums Of 2011". Stereogum. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  32. ^ Uncut‘s Top 50 Albums Of 2011 - Stereogum
  33. ^ Year in Review 2011 - Top 15 Albums
  34. ^ a b "Review: James Blake on BBC 1". Playtonic Dialogues. Retrieved 10 Feb 2011. 
  35. ^ a b c "James Blake - James Blake (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  36. ^ a b c "James Blake - Enough Thunder (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  37. ^ Steffen Hung. "James Blake album". austriancharts.at/. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  38. ^ "James Blake album -.http://www.ariacharts.com.au/pages/". Ariacharts.com.au. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  39. ^ a b "James Blake album - ultratop.be/nl/". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  40. ^ a b "James Blake album - ultratop.be/fr/". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  41. ^ Steffen Hung. "James Blake album". danishcharts.com/. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  42. ^ Steffen Hung. "James Blake album". dutchcharts.nl/. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  43. ^ Steffen Hung. "James Blake album". lescharts.com. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "GFK Chart-Track". Chart-track.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  45. ^ James Blake album - http://www.rianz.org.nz/[dead link]
  46. ^ Sverigetopplistan Swedish Albums Chart
  47. ^ Steffen Hung. "James Blake album". hitparade.ch/. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  48. ^ UK Albums Chart - Week Ending: 19 February 2011 The Official Charts Company, Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  49. ^ [1], Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  50. ^ "Album-Top 100". Hitlisten. IFPI Danmark& Nielsen Music Control. Archived from the original on 2012-01-23. 
  51. ^ "Certificeringer | ifpi.dk". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  52. ^ "British album certifications – James Blake – James Blake". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter James Blake in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  53. ^ "iTunes - Music - James Blake by James Blake". Itunes.apple.com. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 

External links[edit]