Review Summary: The sun is peaking through the clouds over London and the future is looking very promising for not only James Blake, but the entire dubstep scene.
James Blake started releasing music while at university in London just over a year ago and already he is becoming a stand out producer in the genre. With the CMYK EP released earlier this year he showed the signs of his own sound beginning to form. On the Klavierwerke EP Blake gives four more tracks that prove he’s still on the right path to becoming one of the unique artists in dub.
The amount of progression in Blake’s sound in just a year is more than some artists make in years of LP’s and EP’s. On Klavierwerke he uses his classical piano training to further the jazzy textures that weave together his driving beats. His piano playing is brought to attention first thing on the title track. The bouncy piano sample backs what starts as a simple vocal track, but turns into a choir of pitch shifted voices as the piano is traded in for a wobbly bass line and a straight forward beat with some handclaps. Blake uses his mastery of pitch shifted vocals throughout the EP to great success adding them to the mix in all the perfect places. “Tell Her Safe” is the most upbeat song on the record with a glitchy beat and buzzing bass line this track wouldn’t sound out of place on a Fly Lo album minus the wispy pitch shifted vocals that centre the track.
The sound crafted on Klavierwerke is much more personal than the club leanings on CMYK. The songs have a slightly more meaningful quality to them and that is heard best on the standout track “I Only Know (What I Know Now)”. By far the most emotional song in his catalogue, this slow burner starts out with fuzzy piano samples which he then manipulates and layers vocals overtop. A slow beat joins and as the vocals pick up some intensity a crawling bass line comes in, the beat builds and the song takes its stride until slowly fading out. The albums closer “Don’t You Think I Do” finishes things off well with a jumpy 8bit bass line sliding in and around the beat while Blake’s “Oh’s” give the song a very R&B feel and further showcase his masterful pitch shift work.
With Klavierwerke James Blake has taken another huge step forward as an artist and influence to the genre. He has also shown some consistency with two very good releases this year. It’s scary to think how good he might be in the years to come with the progress he’s made in such short time. The sun is peaking through the clouds over London and the future is looking very promising for not only James Blake, but the entire dubstep scene.