While the three tracks contained on this 12-inch are a little more morose and sparser than Blake's breakout remix of Untold's "Stop What You're Doing," they're still just as fiercely inventive. Reminiscent of his work with Airhead—the sublimely minimal "Pembroke" and "Lock in a Lion" saw a release on Brainmath recently—"The Bells Sketch" flickers with the echoed shrills of delayed strings contorting behind low end palpitations that stretch and slice their way up into a slow stomp, decorated with playfully pitched vocals, erratic jazz piano basslines and flecks of pure G-funk synthesizer.
"Buzzard and Kestrel" is more lighthearted; taking its cue from lounge piano and Outkast-esque snare patterns, it dances through Blake's weirdo voice play until he eventually squeaks out his distorted lead synthesizer riff. Squalling his melodies like this is definitely a trademark; no other producer seemingly has the jazz sensibility, the knowledge of harmonics or the balls to combine it with seething sections of bass pressure. His rhythm on the final track, "Give a Man a Rod," clomps like the galloping drums did on his "Sparing With Horses" track (the flip to his debut single) but it's the warmth and surging of his pads that maintain interest. Deliciously weird, off-key and superbly layered, James Blake's debut outing on Hessle Audio manages to succinctly justify the hype his work is now receiving.