If you like sifting through the deep cuts of experimental music, then you won’t want to pass up James Blake’s newest album “CMYK” and, with such a title, trendy art school kids might just take the time to leave their paint-splotched desks to give the album a listen.
I always expect weird sounds from UK producers, but the brand of music London resident James Blake creates is just straight wonky. Apparently, it’s a genre known as “soul futurism” but I also hear bits of broken beat and even some pop mixed in there somewhere.
“CMYK” includes soulful samplings of television voice mash-ups. It’s as if James surfed through TV channels and radio stations for vintage anti-drug PSAs and 90s soul music to weave into his electronic album. Think “This is Your Brain on Drugs” commercial meets Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” The result: a gorgeous collage of eclectic voices interrupting one another. A prime example of how chaos can be beautiful only sometimes. Yes, this is definitely one of those occasions.
And just when you think the back-and-forth R&B banter is getting to the point—to a full, cohesive lyric, it never does. And that’s alright because this is melodic nonsense, complete with Gameboy-esque blips, bleeps, snaps, and badass bass-bumps. The track “Postpone” contains more of these onamonapeic sounds than you can shake a stick at. Seriously.
And while the staggered vocals continue to lollygag, the otherwise simple and repetitive beats are made interesting and new; Blake disrupts them, causing you to cup your ears, and wait for the beat’s tail-end to continue and carry you onward and up, then back down again.
It’s magic for the ears. The sonic equivalent to watching bicycle spokes rotate. Spin on, baby.
Here is my favorite tune off “CMYK”:
James Blake- Postpone