Young Turks has always been a pioneering record label, bringing innovative music to the masses through artists such as The xx, Holy Fuck and Koreless. The musical project of Aaron Jerome is the latest release from the label and in short, SBTRKT is electronic music for the more discerning, offering listeners an engaging and feature-heavy alternative to the current EDM landscape. Wonder Where We Land brings us to the next chapter and is a solid continuation from where their self-titled debut left off.
The album hosts a mellow RnB ethos; courtesy of previous collaborators Sampha (who appears on numerous tracks throughout the record) and Jessie Ware on ‘Problem Solved’ where her vocals perfectly compliment the subtle and upbeat nature of the song. The album also introduces upcoming talents in the form of Denai Moore (‘The Light’) and Raury (‘Higher’), both of whom provide a moody undercurrent with blunt lyricism and hip hop inflections. This is placed against a backdrop of anodic beats, varying gradients of synthesisers, digital effects and washed out keyboards interweaved with SBTRKT’s distinctive intergalactic resonance.
A necessary attribute to the success of this LP is the earnest temperament of Sampha’s voice. Not only does it flow with lucidity and intelligibility, but it showcases absolute sincerity - an openness which is masterfully demonstrated on ‘Temporary View’ as he pleads “won’t you help me” and ‘Gon’ Stay’. The standout track comes in the form of ‘NEW DORP NEW YORK’, a heady mix of thumping bass line, funk, and a sprinkling of samba-infused rhythms contrasted effectively with Ezra Koenig’s nonchalant singing. Hosting intricate production and a distinctly jocular way with words, this track is not only an album highlight but may be one of the strongest tracks of 2014.
Wonder Where We Land is an indisputably strong record. Whilst there are moments on the album which are defined by minimal production such as ‘If It Happens’, this demonstrates that SBTRKT is able to produce solid songs regardless of the materials involved. The crisp production and ambient atmosphere SBTRKT has explored on album number two is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Words: Lois Browne