SBTRKT- SBTRKT (Young Turks / XL)

July 20, 2011 by  

Branded to the Young Turks label amongst proud alumni such as The XX and Holy Fuck, the self titled album from SBTRKT is an extremely impressive and exciting debut- definitely something for the young Londoner to be proud of. Baring late 90’s twitchy bass lines, UK funk, hypnotic movements and tender vocals from the soulful pipes of Sampha and Little Dragon’s, Yukimi Nagano the album is a first listen love. Constant comparisons to James Blake, Jamie Woon and the ‘blubstep’ scene, Jerome has released a heap of singles and EP’s including remixes of M.I.A, Basement Jaxx and Mark Ronson.

Normally introductions can be a bit boring, mundane…a bit of a strained routine that no one quite wants to deal with. ‘Heat wave’ is a pure essence of the enthusiasm and innovation of the album jammed into a three minute track. The optimism and vocal lifts combined with busy beats build an expectation and curiosity which dare the listener to indeed, listen on. The album oozes raw beauty combined with a busy combustion throughout, hypnotising the listener. The use of the marimba in ‘Hold on’ is wholly tranquil and soothing, adding a sense of harmony that could send the most relentless insomniac into a deep sleep. Sampha (who features on this track) is an absolute rare and colossal talent. The tribal, tender tone of his voice is just words-cannot-describe stunning as he cries “You’re giving me the coldest stare/like you don’t even know I’m here”. The vocals and percussion work in holy matrimony creating a pure, satisfying simplicity. Popping up again on the track ‘Trials of the Past’, Sampha’s butter melting voice takes charge with a masculine dominance and has the same kind of effect of the John Legend vocals on Magnetic Mans, ‘Getting Nowhere’.

The album progresses intelligently onto the first single release from the album, ‘Wildfire’. The track has captured a lot of attention- it’s even been remixed by Drake (and when I say remixed…I mean ruined). The unpredictable beats and playful vocals of Yukimi Nagano are enduring and seductive. ‘Right Thing to Do’ featuring Jessi Ware has a clever mixture of nostalgic 90’s UK drum ‘n’ bass/ Katy B (ish) vocals. The drops are gratifying as a thick, heavy bass dominates. Calm and chirpy ‘Something Goes Right’ is a diverse example of relatively laid back pop that features Sampha once more- just the essence of summer. ‘Never Never’ mixes puppy dog vocals with relaxed, nonchalant tones that ease gently into a bass paradise.

All in all, SBTRKT’s album is a rich, eclectic piece of music- that just missed out on a 2011 Mercury Prize Nomination. A damn good debut.


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