Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Need a new read?

If you're looking for a new read, and have even the remotest interest in music, then the tumblr of 15 year old Hugh O'Boyle is one to bookmark.

How do I know he is only 15 years old? He is certainly yet to proclaim his age online, other than on facebook. But Hugh O'Boyle is my step-brother. And it turns out, he is damn good at this writing lark.

Putting any explanation of my many half and step siblings to one side, focus on the music. Ever heard of James Blake? His sounds have certainly entranced me on many an occasion. Well, read this short piece on his work that Hugh recently posted. It was the write up (posted on facebook by our sister Megan) that caught my eye first, and took me to his tumblr.

Enjoy, get lost, and don't forget to come back to me ;).

"Words: Hugh O’Boyle
Here, in what is now effectively the beginning of the end to no less than a great year of music, it feels only decent to gratify James Blake’s transcendent efforts. He has well and truly established the new of 2011, leaving an undeniable perpetual stain in the ‘How To Make Computer Music’ textbooks to come.
Blake has released a collection of EP’s over the past two years, all of which utilized the short, digestible format that introduced his meticulous signature sound. Minimalistic post-dubstep with an ear for tautest bass, the rich sensuality of ‘CMYK’ and the gut-piercing fragment vocal loop to ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ both showed adept arrangement of digital programming and ethereal affects, allowing him a whimsy base for his drive for prominence. James Blake, an unexpected – and totally gorgeous – album, even through it’s choppy mechanical spells, felt oddly personal, so the nomination for Mercury Prize came at no surprise. However, as a project, Enough Thunder offers yet another reason to be grateful for Blake’s dedication to contemporary music.
The short six-track sees James Blake tweak down the effects board and bass lines to unveil a dusty pine-wooden box full of more stagnant, gentle ideas lurking within his mind, and - unlike in previous releases - Blake’s customary beats support rather than define each song, allowing more instrumental sounds to take over. There is surely nothing accidental in ‘Once We All Agree’ standing as album opener; a corridor of vast, lonesome, crackly piano chords and trembling ballads, whilst perpetual to unnerving echoes and aerial reverb. Though, the song doesn’t carry much sense of direction and soon becomes erratic in its own right, eschewing away from Blake’s familiar habit to effectively rise-drop an impending luscious bass line.
The same stands for ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’, a collaboration between Blake and Bon Iver. Although the song sounds exactly how you’d imagine a cohesion between the two, the extent to which the vocal layers go to is almost overwhelming, and as the sounds increment it feels slightly messy. However, it flows with ease from his debut, ebbing with teeth-grinding gambol. The driest track of the bunch is ‘A Case Of You’, a take on the original from Joni Mitchell. Unlike Blake’s ability to reinvent the song as he did his great success with Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’, he simply repurposes Mitchell’s guitar with a piano delivering a surprisingly unadorned, forthright and romantic effort.
It’s actually interesting to hear Blake so bear. He isn’t trying to reinvent his style rather than gander down a different road of sketchbook fantasies. All songs, especially title and penultimate track ‘Enough Thunder’, proves his ambition to elicit a more singer-songwriter style, with more of his own wavering vocals and deep heartfelt piano, and in all traumatism, closes without even a sniff of bass. It does seem as though the album could be a quiet moment of introspection for Blake, as well perhaps as a show of protest that fits in snugly with his recent flare-up over American producers’ finding the mainstream in dubstep and using it as“a pissing contest to see who can make the dirtiest, filthiest bass sound.”
Enough Thunder is not Blake’s most dynamic, genre defying aplomb, but neither is it a promise of what is to come. Rather, it is a snapshot of Blake’s creativity in six songs; just another of his genre fascinations. If you love it, you love it. If you find it tedious, it doesn’t really matter, because the post-dubstep anchor isn’t lowered just yet. While his debut gave the wonder-kid a sound to truly call his own, Enough Thunder proves him a wonderfully unpredictable and tightly wound conductor of ideas. 
To listen to ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’, click here: 

Abiento x

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