James Blake, CMYK EP
A tantalizing window into a deeply disorienting sound world
James Blake is a London upstart producer who makes electronic music that sounds like it's struggling to survive. Every sound escapes the speakers corroded, crawling towards your ears like a half-vanquished Terminator with one outstretched metal claw. On paper, all the typical elements of dubstep are present here — there are the same looping, digitally manipulated voices wafting across the mix like chattering spirits, woozy film-score ambience, and the drum sounds often have the same slightly sewer-dank quality. Where Blake takes a quantum leap forward from all of his peers is the way he pushes these elements into heretofore-unseen levels of abstraction. On "Footnotes," the various rhythmic and melodic pieces barely lock together as the song rolls and lurches forward, creating a constant and deeply gratifying tension that surpasses the merely rhythmic and gets into conceptual territory — you find yourself listening to see what happens. This is headphones music if ever there was any; trying to dance to this stuff would make you look like an old spaceship shuddering to a halt. But it is also, without question, viscerally and intellectually thrilling. CMYK EP is a tantalizing window into this deeply disorienting sound world — put it on and let yourself sink backward slowly into its time-destroying vortex.