James Blake was undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed artists of the last year. No wonder a lot of people went crazy when it had been announced that he would make a track with Bon Iver, another critics’ favourite. The latter did even better in 2011: his album climbeb to number 2 in the US, received some bloody-fokken-awesome reviews across the globe and the singer-songwriter himself got 4 Grammy nods. Finally, Enough Thunder EP gets a release and… a lot of people simply shrug it off. Wrong! The fourth EP by Blake is not as exceptional as his debut but feels as a natural successor to it. If you liked (or loved, like me) James Blake, Enough Thunder will satisfy you. The opening Once We All Agree is a perfect introduction to this rather dark micro-universe. The instant power of this slow jam comes from a brilliant piano and electronic noise haunting like an echo. It breaks unexpectedly to give us We Might Feel Unsound which is more adventurous (still pretty gloomy, though). Not Long Now explores a similar ground. The mentioned collaboration with Bon Iver comes next. I find it charming, strangely getting close to folk at times. All those auto-tune objections are as lame as they are ridiculous. Fans of Feist’s Limit to Your Love should listen to songs four and six. The first one is another cover (Joni Mitchell this time): straightforward and not as forgettable as the closing track. 

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Fall Creek Boys Choir, Not Long Now, Once We All Agree, We Might Feel Unsound

Watch A Case of You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG2E3qyFqsw&ob=av2e

Of all Blake’s EPs, Klavierwerke comes most closely to his proper studio album (even the cover shows the same picture for both releases, though in different colour). Expect piano, intimate beats, ghostly vocals and echoes. A bunch of phanthoms inhabit the first track like haunting memories. I Only Know (What I Know Now) is a mystery that just Fever Ray may unravel. Don’t You Think I Do witnesses something, to cite other sonic experimenters Wild Beasts, equally elegant and ugly trying to get out. Klavierwerke loses with The Bells Sketch and CMYK but it’s easy to tell why James Blake chose to explore this particular direction.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Don’t You Think I Do, I Only Know (What I Know Now), Klavierwerke

Listen to Klavierwerke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbylI4ld5VE

The cover of the second EP by James Blake says “In order to dance”. That short phrase best sums up the four-track CMYK. The opening title track is a delirious and delicious variation on R&B, apparently about some red coat. It’s also one of the best tunes of the fellow Londoner to date. The crystalline beats of Footnotes are meant to permeate through your skin and make you move. Finally, Postpone innocently drives at post-dubstep female-voiced quirkiness.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: CMYK, Footnotes, Postpone

Listen to CMYK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA-lOywYGic

Eleven months before the release of his magnificent self-titled debut album, James Blake’s first EP The Bells Sketch emerged to dazzle the listeners and the critics. It consists of just three tracks: two are superb and one is very good. The Bells Sketch opens this extended play with a certain mystery and may be compared to a gospel from the distant future. Blake plays with his voice to supernatural effects. Buzzard and Kestrel seems less serious: it’s a catchy and twisted fairy tale and you know why the artist chose the word “bells” as an umbrella for the whole work.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Buzzard and Kestrel, The Bells Sketch

Listen to The Bells Sketch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6csogEBPuEM

The debut studio album by James Blake surprisingly managed to climb to the UK Top 10. It was also the first release of 2011 to receive a 9.0 rating from Pitchfork. Now, if this is not an accomplishment, then what is? But James Blake deserves all the buzz for one reason only: it’s terrific. Smooth and glitchy by turns, the record has one of the strongest songwriting I have heard this year. Blake proves he is the genius of post-dubstep as he reaches for emotions with minimal means. And the songs are simply beautiful. On The Wilhelm Scream the singer builds a cathedral of intricate sounds just to destroy it in a spectacular finale. I Never Learnt to Share is based on a mystery we will never discover. Lindisfarne II is Blake at his most optimistic. Sorry for the banality but this track soundtracks a happy life. The shaky To Care (Like You) does not demand a meditation but action. And of course there is Feist’s Limit to Your Love (not one of my favourites, though). Notice: headphones are highly required!

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: I Never Learnt to Share, Lindisfarne II, The Wilhelm Scream, To Care (Like You)

Watch The Wilhelm Scream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isIABK-0ohQ&ob=av2e