Dance & Electronic 2011: 20 Best Albums
1. James Blake
2. Nicolas Jaar
4. Oneohtrix Point Never
6. Amon Tobin
7. The Field
8. Little Dragon
9. Gang Gang Dance
10. Africa Hitech
11. Katy B
12. Hudson Mohawke
13. Junior Boys
15. Babe Rainbow
16. Ford & Lopatin
17. Jamie Woon
18. Miracle Fortress
19. Azari & III
20. Toddla T
1. James Blake (Atlas)
For those familiar with his EPs of 2009 and 2010, such as the superb Kelis-sampling CMYK, James Blake's debut album came as something of a shock. The wonk and bass had been pushed into the background to allow room for a new Blake as a talented singer-songwriter. Blake's bass-laden cover of Feist's "Limit To Your Love," originally released as a one-track single in 2010, seemed like a playful aberration at the time but was in fact a portent of things to come. While tracks such as "The Wilhelm Scream" were more traditional, elsewhere on the album, opener "Unluck" for example, his work retains that left-field blend of IDM, R&B and dubstep that made his early work so unique. The end result is surprisingly emotive, with Blake's dulcet tones accentuated with subtle, or not, use of vocoder and a confessional nature to the lyrics that at times verges on the uncomfortable. James Blake made the most of 2011, becoming the poster-boy for the post-dubstep crossover into the mainstream. The challenge for Blake going forward is to sustain this interest while pushing his hybrid sound further forward. Given his superb live act, which successfully manages the transition from solo project to a three-piece band the cards are stacked in his favour.
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