Concert Preview: James Blake, Prince of Dubstep

If you haven’t heard of James Blake yet, you will in the next few months. Blake exploded onto the British electronic scene with his self-titled debut album in 2011, offering listeners a smooth blend of electronic, soul, folk and other outer-worldly sounds. His music has been described as gospel-like due to its power, yet soft enough to justify a body sway here and there.

The “Prince of Dubstep” (think British dubstep, not Skrillex) has finally made his way across the pond to share his affecting beats with American audiences. He will performing at the 9:30 Club this Saturday, November 2nd.

Similar to many experimental electronic musicians, Blake began making music in his bedroom. He attended Goldsmiths, University of London, where he earned a degree in music. Blake has devoted the past few years to producing music: his second album Overgrown dropped April of this year. Last week it won the Mercury Prize, awarded every year to the best British or Irish album.

“I feel jubilant and confused, wonderful,” the 25-year-old Brit shared.

Blake’s music is a cacophony of instruments, dueling the electronic realm – samples, drum machines, sequencers – against the traditional piano. The result is the ultimate medium between old and new. The layers in Blake’s work are vivid, offering an elegant complexity seldom seen in electronic music.

Vox was lucky enough to see Blake this past summer on his European tour and is happy to report that the boy is crazy talented. An impressive multi-tasker with an eerily beautiful voice, Blake respectfully places emphasis on the instrumentals. Blake is aggressive on the keyboard, surging his body back and forth over the instrument. You will quickly find yourself doing the same, shamelessly drowning in his beats. Concert-goers should prepare themselves: Blake is a master at eliciting emotional response from the audience.

Photo: NRK P3 via Flickr

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