James Blake's Enough Thunder
is quite the opposite of his highly fawned over debut from earlier this year; a quiet, controlled romp through low noises and spacial silence that barely booms at all. Blake is a master of the unspoken emotion, coercing our ears into following him into a glacial pace of melodic movement. But the arctic landscape of this EP is one that beckons exploration, and despite remote accessibility, eventually collapses around the listener.
James Blake is constantly creating an immersive stereo experience, not to be meddled with casually or in tangent to another stimuli—most fans already know this. But about halfway through Enough Thunder
, Blake realizes many may be attacking his new EP with other things going on around them, and he decides to command attention. "A Case Of You", a Joni Mitchell cover and a distinct departure from Blake's minimal bass-and-bleep tactics, is a singular spotlight on the singer's affecting voice, barren, heartbreaking, and essential. The rest of the EP, from the quiet, screwy intensity of "Not Long Now" to Blake's blog-bait with Justin Vernon "Fall Creek Boys Choir" all play on Blake's obsession with the space between, but for one fleeting moment we get the raw, uncut power of James Blake and it's almost blinding. His talents are usually diluted for easy consumption, but this is Blake concentrate. Can you imagine an entire record of solo piano ballads by this guy? Girls might come out the other side impregnated.
And standard Blake fare has never tasted better. "Not Long Now" builds and twists with Blake's play-on-electronic-words, with an aggressive bass that enters a little after the three minute mark. The accentuation of bass as the emotional core of a song is the heart of dub-step, the oft bastardized genre that started with Blake-ish music and somehow ended up being a loudness competition on the pop charts. While many consider dubstep to be dirty or colloquial, Blake persists that the genre in its truest form is darker and more experimental, and more interesting than the mainstream brand. And he proves his version of dub is more affecting, time and again.
Blake is an anomaly; a truly and deeply talented musician able to rework old classics, and write melodies like we've never heard before, wandering and listless in his sonic manipulations, and unafraid to do too little with his audible palette and let us fill in the blanks. Music has always been a bigger and better battle of decibels, with the loudest chorus often winning the stadium status, but Blake takes expectation and pushes it through his filter, a looped echo, and a distant boom, forcing us to strain our emotions to unexpected places, a treadmill for aural appreciation. Your ears need the exercise, and Blake is your personal trainer. Get in shape.
Stream the album in its entirety here.