James Blake: One of My Artist Misses for 2011

What if Jeff Buckley had a child with Nina Simone then that child was adopted by Maxwell and later taught piano by Chopin while playing organ for a Southern Baptist Church in England where he went to school for music theory with Tricky???  Yes, I’m poking fun at how some people describe particular artists but the fact of the matter is James Blake seems to draw likeness from all of the aforementioned inspirations listed above.  His debut album was released at the beginning of last year and I just stumbled upon it a few months ago.  It slipped through the cracks.

The Abridged Version:

James Blake is my favorite album from 2011.  It’s flippin’ dope.  Words and Stuff!

The Unabridged Version:

I was in my car heading to the airport to pick up my sister when on 91.5 WTUL (Tulane Univeristy’s radio station) one of the radio hosts was playing “I Learnt to Share“.  The song begun with Blake singing one line over and over again.  Every time he repeated that one line, he layered different harmonies on top of the last, using auto-tune to enhance this mantra rather than as a crutch.

I was intrigued.

Then, in came splashes of synthesized organ which slowly built itself into a fluid, sermon-like drawl. There were almost two minutes of organ and looped vocals and still no percussion!

Which is very unusual for an electronic composition.

Sneaking in just before the two minute mark, the dull thud of a kick marched in and set some sense of rhythm, a bellowing guitar effect echoed while arhythmic clicks and snaps kept my ears at attention.  The song begun to took shape and strengthen.

The song progressed, the organ intensified, slowly building up, then out of nowhere the organ let out a long shrill, grabbed control of the song and commanded attention.

An eerie yet blissful climax for such a lackadaisical body.  That was it!

I whipped out my phone, searched for a phone app that could identify the song, downloaded it, opened the app, held my phone to the speaker, and before the song was over, the app told me who my favorite artist of 2011 was.  Ain’t technology cool.

Juba Kali


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