Review Summary: The Bells Sketch innovates dusbtep on so many levels.
Since his founding, James Blake has always honed a sophisticated sound in the dubstep scene. His rhythms skitter around from place to place, and his beats strike with math-rock precision, but never undermine his electronic feel. Obviously, his music's elements work best not in conception, but in his brilliant execution. An unpredictable genre-mash is the outcome. For example, the actual composition of Blake's music centers around the chromatic drama of gospel music, but chiptune videogame sounds remain evident inclusions. A classical violin swells frequently, and stops abruptly, but the spastic nature of house music remains clear. This combination is truly what sets apart Blake's music from the rest of the dance world. And The Bell's Sketch
is only a testimony to his undying creativity.
Here, Blake's unquantized beats are staples to his innovative, yet anthemic sound. Above these off-kilter times are soaring melodies, awkward rhythms, and the notorious thud
. Still resplendence shines through via chipper rhythms and playful mischief throughout. On "Buzzard and Kestrel", off-timbre, squealing synths vitalize the last third in a show-stopping way. Alongside this far-out oddity is a more uncertain introduction, yet its grace is the fascinating perplexity. Warbly bass intertwines with melancholic chords, yet Blake shows his knack for inventiveness and intricacy. This rings true on "The Bell's Sketch", which is jam-packed with samples, violins, Blake's own voice, and videogame noises. The combination of these components is unsettling, but strangely intriguing. One can't helped but pause when a violin collapses upon itself, or when a combative dirge of noise melds seamlessly with the rest of Blake's sound. Melodies seem to come and go, each one different than the next, and sporadic burst of energy consume the listener. What's more amazing is the fact that these elements can (and oftentimes they are) be incorporated into a single track. Still, the tracks remain coherent, leaving Blake's sound unrivaled. The Bells Sketch
is a proclomation of his ongoing progression, and can be documented as one of the most genuinely experimental electronic releases in quite some time.