The Bells Sketch

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The Bells Sketch
EP by James Blake
Released 8 March 2010
Genre Dubstep, post-dubstep
Length 14:37
Label Hessle Audio
Producer James Blake
James Blake chronology
The Bells Sketch (EP)

The Bells Sketch is the debut EP of London-based producer James Blake. It was released on 8 March 2010 by Hessle Audio.[1] The EP received very positive reviews from music critics.


The songs on The Bells Sketch have a speed of around 72 beats per minute, which is considered slow for dance music.[2] The title track of the EP features "playful" vocals, "erratic jazz piano basslines", and synthesizers.[3] The song's vocals are a mix of samples and Blake's own voice. It opens with a violin-like sound, after which Blake starts singing. After each phrase, a "video-game noise" covers up the vocals. Halfway through the track, Blake's voice is drowned out by bass.[2]

The next track, "Buzzard and Kestrel", starts with a mixture of muffled vocals and dog whistle melodies. The song stays this way for half its duration, until a cowbell is played. The song then fades out as it ends.[3][4] It is influenced by lounge piano and Outkast snare patterns, and features some synthesizer.[3] The final track of the album is "Give A Man A Rod". The song is driven by claps sounding like drums, and vocals akin to Flying Lotus.[3][4] A version of the song without a drop was released in 2011, entitled "Give A Man A Rod (Second Version)".[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
FACT 4.5/5 stars[4]
Resident Advisor 4.5/5 stars[3]

The EP received generally positive reviews from music critics. Mike Coleman of FACT magazine gave The Bells Sketch 4 and a half "records" out of 5, saying "The Bells Sketch is a complex thing – beautiful and difficult, its glitch-peppered oddities are addictive, but bursting at the seams with a desire to experiment and a complete lack of compromise."[4] Mike Powell of Pitchfork Media said of the EP: "I think it's both (brilliant and a high-concept mess), but I really like high-concept messes."[2]

Resident Advisor also gave the album 4 and a half stars out of 5. Speaking of the EP, critic Oli Marlow said: "Deliciously weird, off-key and superbly layered, James Blake's debut outing on Hessle Audio manages to succinctly justify the hype his work is now receiving."[3] In 2010, Pitchfork Media named The Bells Sketch the eighth best album of the year, along with fellow EPs CMYK and Klavierwerke; the website was "amazed" at how Blake released three EPs in one year, all of different styles.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by James Blake.

No. Title Length
1. "The Bells Sketch"   4:18
2. "Buzzard & Kestrel"   5:43
3. "Give A Man A Rod"   4:36


The following people were involved in the making of The Bells Sketch:


  1. ^ "The Bells Sketch – EP by James Blake". iTunes. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Mike Powell (25 February 2010). "James Blake: "The Bells Sketch". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Oli Marlow (17 March 2010). "James Blake – The Bells Sketch (single)". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mike Coleman (8 March 2010). "James Blake: The Bells Sketch EP". FACT. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  5. ^ David Bevan (12 May 2011). "James Blake: "Give A Man A Rod (Second Version)"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Mike Powell (16 December 2010). "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 26 February 2012.