James Blake
Love What Happened Here


3.5
great

Review

by Deviant STAFF
December 11th, 2011 | 67 replies | 15,233 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: James Blake rounds out a whirlwind year with a much more muted statement, a slightly disjointed but still compelling listen that pays tribute to a tired ghost long since laid to rest

Who is James Blake, if not the most enigmatic man in music right now? And more importantly, is this a question that James Blake himself can even answer truthfully? To perpetuate a stereotype, he’s become the archetypal definition of logical progression. But that progression hasn’t been one simply shaping the identity of the artist; no, every variation on the same distinguished sound that he’s found himself attached too (even if, from a distance) has been more than just a refinement of his process. His artful dubstep advocacy gave way to more bare-boned soul peeled thin over the empty silence of dying bass music, but being more than just passing fascinations he crafted each release into a defining statement for each and all. He hung around long enough to sculpt each of his tendencies as close to the bone as he could allow, to the point where the unfamiliar became completely and fully, James Blake.

Even Enough Thunder, with its complete abandonment of structure and perceived lack of direction was nothing more than a further analysis of the case study he provided on himself with his self-titled LP. So, Love What Happened Here is Blake coming full circle, it’s a return to form….. of sorts. It lands fairly close to the basic and minimal patchwork of his earliest releases: the lopsided percussion juxtaposed against the insistence of hand-claps, church organ synths, and quasi neo-soul that ambiguously hovers over being both refreshing and strangely reflective. And despite being intrinsically tied into the sketchy noir-like atmosphere of his LP, the EPs title track carries its now hallmark-soul through the music over anything Blake might possibly have to say. And we get to hear Blake, chopped up in amongst the buzzing fray, juxtaposed against other anonymous spirits caught in mid-orbit, but here he’s even more fragmented than usual, acting instead as another instrument. It’s all a little familiar at this point, and consequently it’s undeniably Blake, but it feels strangely different; a meshing of the past and the present that ends up falling somewhere in between the two.

‘At Birth’ is something new for the artist though, despite it still harboring a fascination to loosely comment on the indefinable. It discards his more leftfield garage for something that attempts to rub shoulders with the more deep-thinking house of the Detroit and Chicago scenes of American house: four-to-the-floor thump with the bass wisely turned down to a more distant low-end rumble, hypnotic jazzy motifs desperately clinging on like cigarette smoke, doe-eyed longing for subtle techno nuances. It has all the hallmarks of dancefloor filler, but Blake wisely ignores the idea of pinning the hopes of the song onto a hook, eschewing anthem for anonymity.

The EP takes an abrupt turn in its final moments however, with the initially perplexing ‘Curbside’, that strangely seems less formidable now that when it appeared sans artist recognition on Ben UFO’s Rinse mix. It’s a slovenly and, at times, jarring take on booming big beat, reassembled for the laptop scene of the new century. Like a deconstructive Skalpel beat, it’s a swirling mix of broken horns, tumbling percussion and drawn out vocal samples. Repeated listens reveal the elusive structure buried under the stuttering timpani, but the track, which suffers from being more upfront than what we’ve come to expect from the artist, still feels like a work in progress. It’s an obvious experiment, and as a b-side it seems to command some sort of recognition of that fact, but there’s the makings of a fine track in there somewhere, but Blake seems to have favored (once again) the intangible. But it’s less open to interpretation than simply just a rather odd assortment of sounds, thinly held together by alleycat percussion and shows that James Blake, a man who in the last year has become warmly embraced by…. well, the whole word almost, is far from being infallible.

In the grand scheme of things, Love What Happened Here is almost more of the same from James Blake, the dubstep complexities of his CMYK release paired with the haunting mystique from his rebirth as an electronic indie troubadour. It’s still a statement of sorts, though more of a muted one, as if Blake is finally ready to perhaps settle down for a spell. Whether it’s a stepping stone on the path to a new direction, a collective tying-off of the old before the new has a chance to begin, or maybe a release to appease the fans who have been patiently awaiting the definitive sequel to Air & Lack Thereof, Love What Happened Here is still another compelling listen from perhaps the biggest sensation of 2011. It’s an EP for those who remember when James Blake simply made beats rather than songs, and this is nothing more than a tribute to that tired ghost that apparently has since been put to rest.



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user ratings (69)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
rmill3r (3)
A return to Blake's uncanny desire for weird and spastic, the crooner will be missed . . . for now....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2011



30294 Comments


Have no idea why this created a new page, oh well

Love What Happened Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xLdrZjmsMI
At Birth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz2zYgFUFHo&feature=related
Curbside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq5kNMgnCgg

Digging: L'Orange - The Orchid Days

Adash
December 11th 2011



1356 Comments


nah, Nicholas Jaar is the most enigmatic man in music right now.

Love the Skalpel reference

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2011



30294 Comments


Eh, can't agree with that

Eons
December 11th 2011



396 Comments


I'll give this a listen & rate accordingly.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 11th 2011



23625 Comments


"I'll give this a listen & rate accordingly."

haha, yeah that's how this website works.

good read Dev.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2011



7008 Comments


Eh what he just dropped ANOTHER one?!

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

DhA
December 11th 2011



421 Comments


Title track has been out for ages, glad to have a final version. Such a good song.

mutatedfreek
December 11th 2011



7351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh cool.

natey
December 11th 2011



4170 Comments


Curbside is wondrous



tsundereSCIENCE
December 11th 2011



152 Comments


this is so good


Curbside rules

pizzamachine
December 11th 2011



12568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Of course you reviewed this.

Good review though.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
December 11th 2011



6248 Comments


Haven't heard it yet, but I can't say I'm very excited...

Digging: Amatorski - From Clay To Figures

FukuiSan
December 11th 2011



179 Comments


sounds like it sucks

Tyrannic
December 11th 2011



3224 Comments


i'm digging the hell out of at birth. it sounds smoother than other tracks i've heard.

twlichty
December 11th 2011



3394 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"its boring bleeps and bloops but there are some cool noises made at times"

that seems to be what james blake is doing lately

Digging: Lusine - A Certain Distance

Calculate
December 11th 2011



1135 Comments


yeh bang on with this one

twlichty
December 11th 2011



3394 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is more enjoyable than Enough Thunder IMO, but i'm starting to get lost in what James Blake is really trying to achieve in his music anymore

Calculate
December 11th 2011



1135 Comments


he needs to stop fucking around and drop those harmonimixes. at birth's a tune though

twlichty
December 11th 2011



3394 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

At Birth is real good, probably the best track he's made since his self titled

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2011



30294 Comments


'At Birth' reminds me of something but I can't quite put my finger on it



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