James Blake- "The Wilhelm Scream"

James Blake

James Blake

A&M/ATLAS; 2011

If you haven’t listened to James Blake’s self-titled LP, or even heard of James Blake at all, then please do yourself a favor and get it. Like right now. The record is filled with completely unique synths, crisp beats, snaps, vocoders, clicks, and many other electronic and jazz stylized tones designed to perfection.

“The Wilhelm Scream” was released by Blake as a single prior to the album’s release in 2011. The track is minimalistic. All that can be heard to start is Blake’s gorgeously textured synth and a crisp kit. It immediately feels like “sex” music, but before you try anything please know that this most certainly changes. As the song progress, various percussion notes drenched in reverb emerge. But here Blake doesn’t just take the easy route and slam up the reverb to make it sound “cool.” These effects are devised and calculated.  Eventually, Blake’s voice becomes drowned in sound. The synths increase in gain and intensity, the electronic noises appear more frequently, and Blake’s voice is so doused in reverb that his voice becomes lost in the noise. The intensity and distortion of Blake’s words is visualized through the album’s artwork. Blake’s face is distorted with fog, a perfect parallel to his over powering synths and electric sounds. “The Wilhelm Scream” is a work of art. Its concise and deliberated tones make it easily appreciated. While the song is lyrically light, the few words  Blake manages to get out are incredibly effective. “I don’t know about my dreaming anymore/all that I know is that I’m falling.” Behind the wall of overpowering synth Blake provides, along with the album’s cover art, these lyrics characterize a man who is lost and unrecognizable, fallen and defeated.