I’ve been putting off reviews of two of my most loved albums of 2011 for two long now. Given both these artists recently collaborated on a track together, I figured it was good timing to finally dust off this review. The two artists in question are non other than Bon Iver and James Blake. Judging by playcount, these have been my two most listened to new releases of 2011 so far. They recently collaborated on a track that premeiered on the BBC, “Fall Creek Boys Choir”, it’s primarily Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) on vocals, and production from James Blake. Great combination and a logical fit. People seem to be absolutely enamored with this track. While I enjoy it, I don’t particularly find it to be nearly as good as either of their solo efforts for 2011. Makes me wonder if people are just enamored with the thought of these two masters of beautiful original music putting their heads together (even if via email collaboration alone). There is something exciting about taking the “Postal Service” approach to creating music. Sending off an idea to a collaborator and anxiously awaiting to hear back which direction they take it. This is a stark difference from a song organically growing out of a concept of an idea with an entire room of musicians experimenting and growing the sound together at the same time. My word count is amassing quickly and I’ve yet to begin the album review. Here is the recent collaboration if you’d like to check it out.
Listen: James Blake and Bon Iver – Fall Creek Boy’s Choir [audio:http://www.giantpanther.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Fall-Creek-Boys-Choir.mp3|titles=James Blake and Bon Iver - Fall Creek Boy's Choir]
And now on to the actual album review. I can’t remember where I first heard James Blake sometime last year, but I was immediately intrigued. I was also pleasantly surprised to see one of his songs “Wilhems Scream” featured on the ending of an Entourage episode this season, the last few years they have had some great musical selections for the show, ranging outside the normal spectrum of what Hollywood selects from.
Blake’s production styles showcase definite elements of dubstep, but his vocals and song crafting reminiscent of R&B or soul music. Makes for a really unique sound. The thing I love the most about this album is the space. That is; the unfilled aural caverns these songs dare not enter for fear of clouding the sparce, exposed, raw sound this album successfully captures. Sometimes less is more. Don’t get me wrong – this is hardly a shoe-gazer strumming his acoustic guitar or plucking away notes on a keyboard. The harmonic layers, autotuned, chopped and screwed vocals, and dubstep inspired beats make for a very interesting pallet.
Really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for new styles, Blake strikes me as the type of guy that is constantly going to be exploring new styles and sounds.
Listen: James Blake – To Care (Like You) [audio:http://www.giantpanther.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/08-To-Care-Like-You.mp3|titles=James Blake - To Care (Like You)]
Listen: James Blake – Wilhelms Scream [audio:http://www.giantpanther.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/02-Wilhelms-Scream.mp3|titles=James Blake - Wilhelms Scream]
Download James Blake here
Check out James Blake here