|The Bells Sketch|
|Released||8 March 2010|
|Label||Hessle Audio (HES011)|
|James Blake chronology|
The songs on The Bells Sketch have a speed of around 72 beats per minute, which is considered slow for dance music. The title track of the EP features "playful" vocals, "erratic jazz piano basslines", and synthesizers. The song's vocals are a mix of samples and Blake's own voice. It opens with a violin-like sound, after which Blake starts singing. After each phrase, a "video-game noise" covers up the vocals. Halfway through the track, Blake's voice is drowned out by bass.
The next track, "Buzzard and Kestrel", starts with a mixture of muffled vocals and dog whistle melodies. The song stays this way for half its duration, until a cowbell is played. The song then fades out as it ends. It is influenced by lounge piano and Outkast snare patterns, and features some synthesizer. The final track of the album is "Give a Man a Rod". The song is driven by claps sounding like drums, and vocals akin to Flying Lotus. A version of the song without a drop was released in 2011, entitled "Give a Man a Rod (Second Version)".
The EP received critical acclaim from music critics. Mike Coleman of Fact gave The Bells Sketch 4 and a half "records" out of 5, saying "The Bells Sketch is a complex thing – beautiful and difficult, its glitch-peppered oddities are addictive, but bursting at the seams with a desire to experiment and a complete lack of compromise." Mike Powell of Pitchfork said of the EP: "I think it's both [brilliant and a high-concept mess], but I really like high-concept messes."
Resident Advisor also gave the album 4 and a half stars out of 5. Speaking of the EP, critic Oli Marlow said: "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." In 2010, Pitchfork named The Bells Sketch the eighth best album of the year, along with fellow EPs CMYK and Klavierwerke; the website was "amazed" at how Blake released three EPs in one year, all of different styles.
|1.||"The Bells Sketch"||4:18|
|2.||"Buzzard & Kestrel"||5:43|
|3.||"Give a Man a Rod"||4:36|
- "The Bells Sketch – EP by James Blake". iTunes. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Powell, Mike (25 February 2010). "James Blake: "The Bells Sketch"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Marlow, Oli (17 March 2010). "James Blake – The Bells Sketch". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Coleman, Mike (8 March 2010). "James Blake: The Bells Sketch EP". Fact. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Bevan, David (12 May 2011). "James Blake: "Give A Man A Rod (Second Version)"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Powell, Mike (16 December 2010). "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 February 2012.