Dirtbag Journalism

Next Level : James Blake


If the collage is the 20th century art-form, then London-based James Blake’s post-dubstep productions inform the 21st century of the next great art-form: the audio decoupage.

Blake—that’s his middle name (James is his first)—samples, mixes, adds his vocals and instrumentation, and then varnishes them all together; resulting in big picture poetry. With such poised dashes of funk and silence, sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to dance or to sob. Not surprisingly, his seamless songs have turned all three members of The xx into huge fans, with coy crooner Oliver Sim gushing to NME this month, “[Blake] has an amazing voice.”

And this 21-year-old contemporary music student is not letting that voice go to waste. In less than a year, he’s released the single, Air & Lack Thereof on Hemlock Recordings and The Bell Sketch EP on Hessel Audio; and his R&B-influenced CMYK EP (featuring samples of Brandy, R. Kelly, & Kelis) will be out May 31st digitally and on 12’’ vinyl from R&S Records.

Aside from cutting his teeth at the same college all four members of Blur attended, he’s remixed Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and “Bills Bills Bills” by Destiny’s Child under the moniker Harmonix; as well as shuffled himself into Brit band Mount Kimbie’s live lineup after inviting them via MySpace message to one of his DJ sets.

In September, the masterful editor of the aural told The Quietus, “I just think you don’t appreciate the beauty of some sounds until you forget their context for a few seconds.” Unfortunately, it does not look like we at Dirtbag can appreciate his beautiful sounds in the North American context, as his only listed tour dates are in Europe. Here’s hoping that we can nudge him into releasing that full-length that nudges him across the pond.

Posted by : Melissa Kim