Review: James Blake – Enough Thunder EP

Enough Thunder is the Little Chef of James Blake’s post-dubstep: a rather pointless little stop-off that serves only for Blake to indulge himself on (metaphorical) greasy chips and flaccid fish fingers. It is almost certainly a decision that he will come to vaguely regret, though fortunately one unlikely to stick in the memory.

Hitherto, Blake has harnessed the EP rather effectively, creating humming microcosms of sound that showcase his haunting vocals and quivering bass lines in tasty twenty-minute snippets. Enough Thunder sits heavily and awkwardly – a strange menagerie of bee-buzz and whale-wail – with an odd stiffness that has an almost formal quality. This venture into minimalism does make for a more intimate work – but also a rather boring one, with unsettling white noise playing in the background. It is a lonely, introspective work: a melancholy soundtrack to grey days on the M5. This is drizzle, rather than the bass-heavy lightning and thunder of earlier releases. It isn’t even really bad, just somewhat uninspiring.

Collaborative work between Blake and Bon Iver might be expected to be quite wonderful: while ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’ is one of the stronger tracks on the release, it is nonetheless a bit of a plodder, punctuated by odd dolphin barks and that same unintelligible fuzz that characterizes the EP. Actually, the straightforward cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You’ is unexpectedly rather lovely, and perhaps the only place in the release where the minimalist vibe really shines.

 As ‘Not Long Now’ hits minute number four of five and a half, I cannot help but wonder if Blake is referring to the end of the EP. Listening to it in its entirety is a bit of a struggle: I am bored, and uninterested, and actually rather grumpy by the end of it. Hopefully, though, this is only an indigestible minor work – a service station on Blake’s artistic trajectory – and no indication of what is yet to come for an ordinarily extremely talented young man.