It was a bewitching night that, whilst swayed in trance-like forward motion, made one want to, will oneself, ahelm, with a scream (yes, went there).
James Blake, a Londoner with a rich musical heritage creating some of the more forward thinking electronic music of recent time, left gig goers nearly at their knees last night when he and his subs took down the Paradise with a brilliant blend of sonic explosion and deep soul nearly impossible to put to words.
Playing various tracks off his breakout self-titled debut lp and backed by some rhythm of monumental proportion (also noted by the crowd and Blake himself: “I’ve in fact got the best drummer and I can say that because its not me!”), Boston’s sold out gig was anything but unlucky–an experience replete with rich texture, ambient tracks that devolved into blips, wails, and a heartbeat, like on track “I Never Learnt to Share”, which featured a vocal loop of unending magic.
While there were plenty of mind bending dubstep sequences and shifts, it was on the sparser tracks–namely “The Wilhem Scream”, “Unluck”, and “Give Me My Month”–that Blake’s numbing vocals were allowed to shine, soul shake, and even, at times (at least for humblest blogger), heartbreak.
But it was an early track–“CMYK”–that really stunned and moved; the tune, which appears on an ep of the same name, absolutely exploded across the space–pummeling, gut wrenching drums and a Kelis sample that will make you rethink James Blake in, perhaps, a catsuit (note: see our review of Kelis from 2010), it was that transcendent.
Openers Chairlift, a long time favorite of our little space, failed to meet the Mr. Blake explosive mark; Caroline Polachek, who clearly has a stunning voice, was left overshadowed by the big sounds of keys and drums–her vocals sounded blanched, at times inaccessible and drowned out (maybe that’s what they were going for?) and the new material (for a record due on next January) featured “pastoral” soundscapes that seemed to lack the whimsical edge of earlier tracks like “Bruises” and “Doves of Summer”. But “Planet Health” was as gorgeous as always, for what it’s worth.
Still, the night solidified why we keep going to gigs, writing about music, and letting our insides open up and rip apart, whether it’s dubstep, post dubstep, or the fucking two-step.