Thursday, August 11, 2011


For the most part, South London DJ SBTRKT (real name: Aaron Jerome) delivers the goods with his self-titled, full-length debut. Though, as alluring as the British electro-underground culture has become in recent years, it’s a little disappointing to hear something quite as straightforward as SBTRKT- especially when it’s delivered by an anonymous, masked artist who seemingly thrives on mystery. While not completely lacking in mystique, Jerome opts for a more direct approach than those embraced by pioneering contemporaries Burial, Zomby, and James Blake. Indeed, SBTRKT has moments of successful experimentalism; it basically streamlines each trendy UK electronic subgenre into one identifiable sound- often coined as “Post-Dubstep”. However, this sound is mostly just pleasant and rarely ventures into riskier, more combustible territory. We never wonder where exactly Jerome is taking us. And despite it’s danceable efficiency, the journey is without the latent sense of danger that rendered other recent exports so memorable.

None of this though detracts from the technically flawless production of SBTRKT. Not a singer himself, Jerome has equipped his album with a wide array of vocal talents- notably Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano, London singer Sampha, and Roses Gabor. When SBTRKT works, it really kills. Songs like “Wildfire”, “Sanctuary”, and “Pharoahs” are perfectly executed tunes that boast an energetic playfulness separating them from the dour tendencies a less direct album may indulge. Furthermore, “Trials of the Past”, featuring Sampha, is a thoughtful, lonely slice of R&B with an infectious loop snaking its way across the peripheral. And while it may be true that SBTRKT is not the ambitious gamechanger many hoped for or predicted, this says more about the recent high quality of bass culture itself- a movement that seemingly always stops just short of pretension. Nobody doubts that Jerome is capable of delivering his own clubbed-out, innovative masterpiece. But for now it seems that SBTRKT is content to have fun with the listener at the highest level possible and perhaps that is a reasonably, logical progression of the genre. This is after all his debut; Jerome has the rest of his career to be challenging.


SBTRKT - WILDFIRE by Fabio Ramoz

SBTRKT - Sanctuary by smithblogsatlanta

- Fr. Jones

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