Review: Klavierwerke

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The name brings back memories of Grade 3 piano studies, but the music sends you into a hazy daydream. James Blake’s fourth EP is as spacious as the Australian outback, and – like its predecessors – full of glitchy melodies and very satisfying chords. Already at this point in his career, his style is instantly recognisable.

In CMYK, his last release, Blake took cues from J Dilla and Burial, mashing up 90s RnB samples beyond recognition and harmonizing them with synths. Klavierwerke applies the same treatment to Blake’s own voice, to similar but sparser effect. The “lyrics” are barely discernible – although he does seem to be saying “Cherwell” in the title track – and the vocal snippets instead function as the textural counterpart to the keyboard.

The third instrument is silence, and Blake plays it like a virtuoso. “Tell Her Safe” is basically a call-and-answer between voice and nothing. Throughout the EP, the pulse comes and goes. Almost gone are the dubstep influences that coloured Air & Lack Thereof; instead we get solitary handclaps, the occasional chime. Blake would be the one to drop 4:33 of silence into a DJ set.

But you won’t hear this EP in a club, because whereas his earlier music wrong-foots dancers with stop-and-start melodies, Klavierwerke is a step further away: it isn’t suited to clubbing at all. It’s a tonic. Soak yourself in it once a day, like you would in a hot, foamy bath – you’ll never need to wash again.

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