Written By: Fletcher Bonin
I’m big enough to admit that my only experience with SBTRKT up to this moment has been Drake’s remix to their track ‘Wildfire’. Upon listening to his debut album, SBTRKT, however, I have realized this music is totally worth my – and your – attention. Yes, he named his album after his stage name, something I usually consider to be a faux pas when it comes to naming your album. But as this is a debut album, I have to say, I get it. SBTRKT is announcing himself with this debut album, and I gotta say I love, and agree with, the confidence they’re putting out there. He knows his sound is worth listening to, and now so do we.
This thirteen track production is essentially an education in experimental deep house. This is not necessarily club music but perhaps music for after the club. With artists like Sampha, Jessie Ware and Little Dragon hopping on to several tracks as features, the album becomes a soulful stream of conscious. These R&B tones are enhanced by the steady bass beats and rhythmic tessellations that SBTRKT has provided as instrumentals. Ultimately, these sounds combine for a smooth and soothing effect. Each beat lingers in your headphones just long enough before dropping out, being replaced by an equally harmonious silence.
Two of the tracks were originally released as singles, and the talented Sampha found his way onto both of them. The first is the steady lament entitled ‘Hold On’. Sampha sings to us from the unknowable abyss, detailing the pitfalls of a romance gone bad, backed up by SBTRKT’s metronome-like bass hits and glimmering synthetic chirps. The second track originally released as a single is ‘Trials of the Past’. Sampha provides the vocals for this one as well, this time reflecting soulfully on past pains and struggles. SBTRKT channels a more experimental sound on this track, chopping up the mix and adding choice amounts of percussion and synth to form a mesmerizing backbeat.
Other tracks I really enjoyed are ‘Right Thing to Do’, ‘Something Goes Right’ and ‘Never Never’. There is really no wrong time to listen to SBTRKT, the sounds and sentiments generated are so varied and diverse that, really, every time is the right time. SBTRKT blends house music with soul in a way you didn’t know could be so harmonious. It makes for an ultimately transfixing and fascinatingly new sound that will leave you wanting more. Luckily this is just his first album.